Monday, June 27, 2005

Plant Derived Plastics Becoming Competitive with Oil

LA Times reports on surge in plant based plastic production. As processing becomes more efficient, products such as take-out boxes are now cheaper than regular plastic, as petroleum prices continue to soar.

To Replace Oil, U.S. Experts See Amber Waves of Plastic - Yahoo! News.
by Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer -- June 26, 2005:

"With oil prices near $60 a barrel, goods made from grain also compare favorably on price. So chemists and engineers are racing to figure out how to substitute Iowa's bounty for Iraq's. The goal: to use crops, weeds and even animal waste in place of the petroleum that fuels much of American manufacturing. The Energy Department is so enthusiastic that it is aiming to convert 25% of chemical manufacturing to an agricultural base by 2030....

When Cargill launched its factory in 2002, its pellets were far more expensive than equivalent material made from oil. Wild Oats Markets, an early customer, paid 50% more for takeout containers made from the bio-plastic. But over the last two years, the Cargill plant has gotten more efficient — and oil prices have soared. The result: The "corn-tainers" in the deli now cost Wild Oats 5% less than traditional plastic, Wild Oats spokeswoman Sonja Tuitele said."