Friday, April 30, 2010

intellectual property

Searching for new materials is a mission. It seems like industry is waiting for new materials to eventually become available and up until that point they can't do a lot because the material they are after is only produced in one off blocks the size of a piece of gum. And even if they could produce lots of these pieces of gum, it seems they wont because of supposed IP issues, whatever "IP issues" are they sure do bring development to a grinding halt. It would be great to put some of these new materials experiments into products to see if they can perform, but it seems that the step between scientific research and design is a long road of issues.
For example, if biodegradable plastic made from corn starch (PLA) is such a revolutionary product then why isn't it readily available in varying sheet sizes and thicknesses. Look at acrylic which comes in so many different forms which I can buy from a myriad of places around Auckland city. Apparently bio-plastics account for less than 1 percent of the 181 million metric tonnes of synthetic plastic the world produces every year... yeh a very small portion. However, it is growing 20-30 percent a year, and is expected to drop in price as petroleum based plastics continue to fluctuate due to unstable production regions and dwindling resources. So are companies willing to pay the extra money for a biodegradable plastic?? Well it doesn't seem like they're all rushing out to get it in stock, so although we talk about the worlds tragic environmental state is it fair to say alot of people aren't willing to pay the price for a possible solution.

sources: CIA World Factbook, Jewell, Lamb

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