Researchers have found ways to substitute keratin — specifically, chicken feathers — for petroleum in some plastic products, potentially opening a new market for poultry producers looking to offload their leftovers.

The poultry industry must deal with roughly 3 billion pounds of leftover chicken feathers each year, according to reports. Eastern BioPlastics has developed a process for removing keratin resin from the feathers that can then be used in the production of such items as flower pots. Right now, said company President Sonny Meyerhoeffer, the process is still in the refining stage. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Nursery & Landscape Association are also working on ways to expand the potential of using feathers in place of petroleum.


Further studies are being done on the most cost-effective ways to implement the idea, according to researchers.