I’ve been noticing some press recently surrounding Arboform, a plastic-like compound invented by 2 German guys, and made from lignin, which they get from the pulp-manufacturing industry. It’s a byproduct of paper-making and related industries, so there’s tons of the stuff generated every year (130M lbs/65K tons). The first article I saw on it was over at Space Mart, which states that the lignin is “combined with resins, flax and other natural fibers” and “forms a mass that can be processed like any other thermoplastic material.” I love to see waste become useful things again.
The first toys made from it are a nativity set. Plaques made of Arboform showing information about TECNARO GmbH – the German company that invented it – reveal that it has a bit of a marbled sandstone look to it, as seen here, and here. Provided it proves safe, I’d love to see the lignin generated by the paper industry reused to make things like toys, or used as fillers for weight and structural applications. Every bit of tree scrap we use to make a product is trees we don’t have to cut down, and in this case, oil we don’t have to find and pump.
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator