Ever since I heard about Henry Ford building one of his first vehicles from a hemp resin and Diesel making his first engine to run off an organic oil like bio-diesels of today, I've been waiting for someone in academia or a corporation (albeit a better chance the former) to discover a material of this magnitude.
What magnitude you say?
Read the headline from Treehugger, "Wine and Biodiesel Byproducts Combine to Make 'Green' Polymer"
Apparently producing bio-diesel creates a lot of glycerine and producing wine creates a lot of tartaric acid. They are both waste by products of a process that our societies undertake on a regular basis. When combined together with some woodchips and sawdust it becomes moldable as it is a very hard substance initially. Put it in the oven and it vaporizes completely. Undergraduate engineering students from Oregon State University have patented the material which can be used building and insulation material along with being an ash free alternative for heating.
This means a few things.
1 - An alternative to plastic for a bunch of different applications.
2 - An alternative for building insulation
3 - An alternative for cement, maybe steel, and possibly wood
4 - An alternative heating solution to wood
The best part about it?
This is all being done from relatively none intensive environmentally friendly industrial activity in the first place by using the waste by-products. Potentially this could be scaled to use all of the waste by-product from both industry as there is a constant demand for the products that can be made from the polymer.
This makes our re-use of about 3-5% of all our recycled plastics in paint, carpets and upholstery sound like claims by the Canadian and US governments that they are meeting green-house gas emission targets.