Henry Ford once said "I foresee the time when industry shall no longer denude the forests which require generations to mature, nor use up the mines which were ages in the making, but shall draw its raw material largely from the annual products of the fields"
Science and Mechanics explained how in 1936:
PLASTICS — chemical compounds which, are compressed under heat into desired shapes, and thereafter are not subject to corrosion—are increasingly in use. Some are made of coal-tar products, some of milk; and one, which Henry Ford is now employing extensively, utilizes the Chinese soy bean. This useful plant, is, next to rice, the staff of life in the Celestial republic; like beans, peas, and other "legume" plants, it contains the proteins, or nitrogen compounds, for which we eat meat. Its oil, also, has found many uses; and those who have eaten the great American national dish, chop suey, are familiar with the dark soy sauce which accompanies it. The mechanical uses of the soy bean (which does not resemble American beans) are of more recent discovery. It furnishes a fibrous flour, which gives body to a phenol (carbolic acid) compound. Under heat and pressure, this changes into a hard, strong, glossy substance, suitable for buttons, knobs, handles, mouldings, etc. About fifteen pounds of beans are now used in each Ford car, and raised under the direction of the manufacturer.
At Dearborn Mich., "automobile farming" is being carried on on a large scale, constantly pointing the way by means of endless research toward greater utilization of farm products in motor-car manufacture. Thousands of acres are producing soy beans, which are fed into hoppers to emerge eventually as moulded car parts and enamel. A simple mechanical set-up has been devised, by means of which the farmer, after he has harvested his crop of soy beans, can turn the beans into a form that can economically be shipped to the factory. ::Modern Mechanix
More on Henry Ford and Bioplastics:
Wayback Machine 1934: Henry Ford on Biofuels and Bioplastics
A Vision of a World of Hemp
More on Bioplastics:
Bioplastics: The "Other" Biofuel?
::Using Maple Syrup To Make Bioplastics
::Earthshell Opens First Bioplastic Factory in Missouri