June 24, 2008 – They are not laughing anymore; Years ago we suggested Maine could find a new use for potatoes. Our concern at that time was a bad crop year and potato’s were hauled to the dump. We found a factory in Massachusetts that was using corn starch to make things like golf tees, coat handgers, packing peanut and other products that were environmentally friendly. A little sun and rain and they dissolved with no impact at all on the land or land fills. A friend took the idea and ran with it, right into a brick wall. Not for Maine or the potato harvest he was told.
Well time has moved on and today the good news is researchers at the University of Maine are creating a plastic resin called Polylactic acid, or PLA from potato starch. The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center is studying market opportunities and the Maine Potato Board is working with growers to identify locations for factories that will come.
This is a positive result of research and development and various groups working together. If successful, it could mean a use for waste potatoes and a second crop for Maine. It means jobs, new products from Maine and promises positive economic development for the entire state.
That’s our opinion we welcome yours. Fred Nutter Editorial Director