Poop becomes plastic

Plastic and poop: Two substances known to help us, hurt us, and make us wrinkle our noses. Just over the hill in Sacramento, one company is undergoing a pilot project to make the most of each by turning poop into plastic.

When liquids and solids are separated at wastewater treatment facilities, the heavy sludge that sinks to the bottom is either incinerated, sent to a landfill or used to grow inedible crops. Micromidas is now working to turn 50 to 70 percent of that sludge into plastic by feeding it to special microbes. As Micromidas CEO John Bissell explained it to Discovery News, the bugs eat the sludge, get nice and fat, and their fat turns into a form of polyester. The bugs are then killed and the polyester, which is part of a family of plastics, is extracted. And the plastic, unlike the kind made from fossil fuels, biodegrades nontoxically within a year and a half.