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By: Sara Mason
Posted: December 6, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
page 4 of 6Sugarcane-derived plastic is made from a renewable resource using an innovative process that transforms sugarcane into high-density polyethylene plastic. It is said to be completely recyclable in current reprocessing facilities. The technology is similar to that used for Coca-Cola’s 30% plant-based PlantBottle, which uses sugarcane- and molasses-derived PET. The usage of the new material represents another step in the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the development of sustainable innovation products through its work with external partners. The plan is the result of more than three years of work, research and collaboration with trusted partners to innovate in the realm of sustainable packaging materials. “This innovation is truly consumer-driven,” said Rushmore. “It was designed to meet the needs of consumers who want more sustainable products without trade-offs. This new packaging has significant environmental benefits compared to traditional plastics, but looks, feels and acts exactly the same, and will be sold at the same price as before.’’
And changes from a giant like P&G is a sure sign of change in the mainstream marketplace. Mirel continues developing bioplastic materials to replace petroleum polymers. Mirel’s bioplastic materials are made through the fermentation of corn sugar, and can be biodegraded by the microbes present in natural soil or water environments. The material combines the expected durability and versatility of traditional petroleum-based plastics with biodegradable properties, providing brand owners with a unique material for use in their products. Mirel can be fabricated into compact cases, lipstick cases, mascara containers, lip balm tubes, brush handles, jars and caps. The products are currently available, and several cosmetic companies are trying the materials to see if they fit with their products. The company expects to see the materials used in beauty packaging and on the shelves in the near future.
Cereplast, Inc. designs and manufactures proprietary starch-based, renewable plastics as well, and the company is making a breakthrough with plastic made from algae. The algae-based resins carry the potential of replacing 50% or more of petroleum content used in traditional plastic resins.
Cereplast says the algae is close enough to the starches— such as corn, wheat and tapioca—that the company already turns into plastics. The problem is not the science, it’s the demand. Getting enough of the resource to produce mass quantities is the challenge. However, Frederic Scheer, chairman and CEO, said the company has identified a partner that potentially could provide a steady supply and is entering into a strategic partnership for this technology platform.
“Algae-based resins represent an outstanding opportunity for companies across the plastic supply chain to become more environmentally sustainable and reduce the industry’s reliance on oil,” said Scheer. With Cereplast on target in terms of timing, he believes that this breakthrough technology could result in a significant future for algae in packaging.