Making Plastic From Plants: A Step Toward an Oil Free Future

The gusher in the gulf continues to spew, the oily sheen and clumpy globules seeping into every nook and cranny of the marine environment along hundreds of miles of coastline. Not a bad time to consider the extent to which petroleum has seeped into nearly every aspect of daily life. Whether it is a product, food or service odds are it was created, packaged, stored, shipped or sold using numerous convenient innovations derived from petroleum or fueled by it.

Disposable plastic packaging, bags and food service containers are just some of petroleum’s many uses. Making the move away from fossil fuel dependency will require substituting renewable materials for oil-based sources we currently rely on in numerous industries. One company working to achieve this move is Michigan-based Fabri-Kal, which produces high quality food service containers called Greenware® and other consumer packaging made from a biopolymer derived entirely from plants.

Fabri-Kal’s Greenware® is made in America from source material that is annually renewable. It is derived from domestically grown plants which can be replanted yearly and are not part of the food supply. Currently the feedstock is made mostly from corn, but many other plants can be used. The containers and packaging are 100% compostable in an actively managed facility and offer “significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the developer of Ingeo™ biopolymer, IngeoNature Works LLC. Greenware® is also recyclable, but the common availability of such facilities has yet to materialize. Fabri-Kal stands behind their products and claims with a No Greenwashing Pledge.

Although only “about 4 percent of the world’s annual oil production of some 84.5 million barrels per day is used as feedstock for plastic,” according to Grist Magazine, “and another 4 percent or so provides the energy to transform the feedstock into handy plastic,” moving toward renewable resources is a step in the right direction. Fabri-Kal continues to push into the frontier of environmentally conscious packaging helping to wean our culture of convenience and consumption off other oil-based products.

Originally published online at Hippie Magazine.

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