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Micromidas turns waste into plastic

In the 1967 film "The Graduate," Mr. McGuire advises protagonist Ben Braddock, "There's a great future in plastics." A handful of recent UC Davis graduates have heeded that advice and are building the next generation of plastic.

Their company, Micromidas, processes sewage sludge, the hardened layer of waste from sewage treatment facilities, into Polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHAs. Simply put, it turns poop into plastic.

Founder and CEO John Bissell said he was motivated ethically and economically to form a truly "green" plastic company in all aspects of production. Micromidas uses bio-waste and biological methods to create biodegradable plastic.

The idea that in the right conditions, bugs create PHAs, first came to Bissell and his friends doing external research at UCD. In April 2008, Bissell partnered with six other UCD students to replicate these conditions, and their experiment won first place in the Environmental Protection Agency's "People, Prosperity and the Planet" competition.

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