Could gummy bears save the planet? Well, not exactly. But in the future, wind turbines, an important source of sustainable energy, could be recycled and made into gummy bears. Yes, the ones you eat.
I know this sounds crazy, like these gummy bears would be seriously toxic and taste like plastic. But it turns out, they would be (supposedly) safe, taste like normal gummy bears, and be a sustainable way to reuse material from wind turbine blades. Maybe gummy bears really can help save the planet!
So how exactly would wind turbine blades be recycled into gummy bears? And why?
Well, apparently wind turbine blades are made of fiberglass and they have a shorter lifespan than the other parts of the wind turbine. This means approximately 8,000 blades need to be replaced each year (in the U.S. alone), Bloomberg reports. The huge fiberglass blades can’t be recycled, so they often end up in landfills, which is a problem since the whole point of wind turbines is to help the environment. And creating more waste has the opposite effect.
So, where do gummy bears fit into all this? I, much like wind turbines, am a big fan (get it?) of both sustainability and gummy bears, so I was excited to find out. Turns out, in an effort to make more environmentally friendly turbine blades, Michigan State Professor John Dorgan created a material called “thermoplastic resin” out of glass fibers with both synthetic polymers and polymers derived from plant materials. This material could be used to make sustainable wind turbine blades that could be dissolved and recast into new blades, as well as other products, from countertops to diapers.
And that’s not all this thermoplastic resin can do! It can also be purified and broken down into a compound called potassium lactate, which is edible and apparently has all kinds of uses, like preserving meat, and enhancing the solid gel texture of certain candies. Like gummy bears! Professor Dorgan already tried making gummy bears out of this purified resin and says they taste no different from regular gummy bears. What a time to be alive!
We may all want to try these punk rock, planet-saving gummy bears right the heck now. But unfortunately, we will have to wait. As of right now, there isn’t even enough of this new bioplastic to make a full set of turbine blades, let alone turbine blade gummy bears. But I’m super excited for this to be a thing! I’m also curious to see what the product will be called. Wind Tur-Bears? Sustaina-gummies? Gummy with the Wind? I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.