Engineering trees to make environmentally friendly paper

BY Colleen Shalby  April 4, 2014 at 6:18 PM EST

Photo by Flickr user @Doug88888

Photo by Flickr user @Doug88888

Researchers have found a way to genetically modify trees for the purpose of creating sustainable paper.

According to “Science Daily,” Lignin — a polymer found in most plants — must be removed to produce paper (and biofuel), but the process requires chemicals and energy that cause waste. Researchers are working to modify lignin to make it easier to break down, without decreasing the strength of the tree.

“We’re designing trees to be processed with less energy and fewer chemicals, and ultimately recovering more wood carbohydrate than is currently possible,” said Shawn Mansfield, professor of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia.

Not only would the process give us happy trees and “greener” paper, but it could also result in a simpler way to produce biofuel, and reduce pollution.