Sugar cane is well known for its use to create ethanol. Sugar cane is an alternative to corn when creating ethanol to use in a gasoline blend, and Brazil produces a lot of sugar cane for fuel purposes. Researchers are working on methods of creating plastics out of corn since corn is a renewable research. Now, Green Biz reports that Procter and Gamble are offering shampoo, conditioner, and makeup products with sugar cane packaging.
Plastic forks and knives are commonly made using petroleum. Sugar cane plastic can now be found in these disposable items as well. Unlike the plastic forks and knives commonly found at the store, these sugar cane plastic items are biodegradable and may be composted. World Centric offers a Bagasse line of sugar cane tableware. World Centric also mentions that the sugar cane fiber which is used to produce these plastic items was previously incinerated, releasing additional carbon, ash, and other materials into the air.
Takeout containers are commonly made from wax paper, styrofoam, or plastics which do not degrade and cannot be composted. The Portland Tribune reports that StalkMarket now produces takeout containers which are made from sugar cane plastic. In addition, the company can also make coffee cups, lids for containers, and plastic forks and knives as well. This article claims that the sugar cane products must be taken to a commercial composting center, not a home composting center, which isn’t mentioned in the World Centric article. Companies which produce sugar cane tableware may be using manufacturing techniques which are different enough to affect how the products can be recycled.
Proctor and Gamble partnered with the large chemical manufacturer Braskem to produce the new packaging materials. Braskem specializes in thermoplastic products and has created a major initiative to produce polyethylene from renewable sources on a large scale. Green Biz does say that recycling programs may accept these packages, since many communities accept polyethylene products in their recycling programs and Proctor and Gamble plans to label the products accordingly. It may be easier for Braskem to process these items into an easily recyclable form, since it is a much larger company than competitors such as StalkMarket and also has the assistance of Proctor and Gamble’s chemists.