An environmentally friendly plastic
A material that has all the properties of plastic, produced from an organic material, and that is also biodegradable already exists.
PLA is a bio-derived, biodegradable and compostable plastic.
The problem is that to be degraded it needs to be treated with special processes in expensive infrastructures.
What we need is something that can also degrade in nature.
PHAs (Polyhydroxyalkanoates) for example.
PHAs are polymers synthesized by bacteria, starting from sugar and vegetable oils, as a backup carbon source. That is, bacteria have been using them for millions of years to store carbon.
They meet all the requirements needed to replace petroleum-based plastics.
The real challenge lies in marketing them. One proposal is to use existing waste storage facilities, which may contain methanogenic bacteria.
These, by consuming waste, produce methane which feed methanotrophic bacteria, that naturally produce PHAs.
PHAs would then be collected from the cell wall of the bacteria in the fermentors, by dehydrating them, to finally obtain a sort of pellet.
Thus, by using existing waste disposal facilities containing methanotrophic bacteria, we could gradually compete with petroleum-based plastics as the process becomes cheaper and more efficient.