Modern livestock operations have the capability to produce enormous quantities of animal products such as beef, milk, poultry, eggs, pork and fish. However with the increase in productivity and stocking density, there is an accompanying increase in the amount of animal waste produced. The waste management considerations of the concentrated manure effluents generated by these point source locations pose enormous challenges to safely, effectively and economically remediate before discharging into the local environment. The release of these nutrients into the environment is responsible for large algae blooms which occur in water polluted with agricultural run-off.
Growing algae biomass on the nutrients found on farms presents an alternative to the current practice of land application and provides high productivities of algal biomass which can offer additional revenues by being utilized as a feedstock for a variety of products, such as bioplastics, animal feeds, protein supplements, bio-methane or organic fertilizers.
The use of fossil-fuel resources for the production of plastics and polymers has a long history and has provided industries with low-cost feedstocks to develop a variety of plastic-based products, including packaging. In today’s age, fossil-fuel resources are becoming more costly, both economically and environmentally, thus sustainable alternatives are being actively pursued to reduce dependence on foreign oil reserves. One such alternative is the use of algae biomass for conversion into biomaterials, such as bioplastics. The use of renewably grown algae biomass dramatically reduces the environmental impact of plastics by reducing the amount of fossil-fuel content and by imparting the plastic with biodegradability.