At a time when governments are renewing efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, NatureWorks, a leading manufacturer of biodegradable plastics has achieved a breakthrough with a new plastic made from plants. The company claims that this new plastic, or Ingeo, lowers CO2 by up to 60 percent and, best of all, requires 30 percent less energy to produce than any of the other bioplastics.
The emissions and energy reductions are low even in comparison to petroleum-based plastics. For example, the manufacturing of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which is most commonly used to make water and cold drink bottle emits 3.4 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of resin produced. In contrast, the new Ingeo manufacturing process emits 0.75 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of resin and consumes 56 percent less energy than the equivalent weight of PET.
This breakthrough in bioplastic technology is a result of a decade-long collaborative research and development effort exploring advanced lactic acid production technologies. Research organizations included NatureWorks’ parent, Cargill, a network of biotechnology firms, universities, and government research laboratories. It also received financial backing from the U.S. Department of Energy to the tune of about 25 million!
Ingeo plastics can be used to make attractive, affordable products ranging from natural plastic food packaging and food service ware, to clothing, house wares, personal care products and electronics.