PLANTS, SUN, AND ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY GIVE INGEO BIOPLASTIC IMPROVED ECO CREDENTIALS
The manufacture of NatureWorks’ Ingeo™ plastic, made from plants not oil, emits fewer greenhouse gasses (GHGs) than the comparable manufacture of every other common petrochemical-based plastic, according to a peer-reviewed article published in the August 2010 edition of Industrial Biotechnology.
The article, "The eco-profile for current Ingeo polylactide production," was peer reviewed and approved for publication in Industrial Biotechnology by an independent panel of experts. The article documents the energy and GHG inputs and outputs of Ingeo production, including planting, harvesting, fermenting plant sugars, and resin production.
Plants absorb CO2 as they grow and that offsets and lowers the overall GHG emissions from Ingeo production by 61 percent. The yellow bar in the “Gross GHG Emissions” chart shows the amount of CO2 absorbed by plants. The blue bars indicate the total CO2 emitted during various stages of plant growth through polymer production. The yellow bar represents the 61 percent overall offset.
The CO2 absorbed by the growing plant not only reduces GHG emissions, but also directly replaces the fossil resources that are required as the building block for today’s petro-based polymers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biopreferred Program and the European Union’s Lead Market Initiative are both designed to promote biobased products. The data on lowering carbon footprint presented in the article shows why these programs are important in terms of stimulating the use of biobased material over non-renewable material.
"Using renewable performance materials in lowering carbon footprints is why brand owners and retailers are becoming increasingly interested in using materials such as Ingeo biopolymer," said Marc Verbruggen, president and chief executive officer, NatureWorks. "It is one of the principal reasons Ingeo sales are climbing at a double-digit rate, and why NatureWorks is planning on building a second production facility to meet the growing demand for Ingeo."
Ingeo is the NatureWorks brand name for its portfolio of polylactide biopolymers and the study notes:
"The data provided in this report is only valid for Ingeo (polylactides produced by NatureWorks in Blair, Nebraska, USA) and not for polylactide production in general. The life cycle inventory data for polylactides that might be produced elsewhere will be different due to different raw materials (sugar or starch source) and raw material production practices, different technologies for processing these raw materials, different fermentation and polymerization technology, and different background data for electricity/fuel mixes used."
Since the NatureWorks Ingeo facility in Nebraska began production in 2002, technology improvements there have further lowered energy consumption and GHG emissions. The following charts compare the energy consumption and the GHG emissions of Ingeo and common petrochemical plastics on an equal-weight basis in the cradle-to-factory stage of their life cycle.
To view examples of how companies around the world have incorporated the Ingeo eco profile into their products, visit NatureWorks’ most recent "LookBook." Visit the NatureWorks website www.natureworksllc.com for news and product information and sign up to receive the Ingeo News newsletter.
About NatureWorks LLC
NatureWorks LLC is a company dedicated to meeting the world’s needs today without compromising the earth’s ability to meet the needs of tomorrow. NatureWorks LLC is the first company to offer a family of commercially available, low-carbon footprint Ingeo biopolymers derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources with performance and economics that compete with oil-based plastics and fibers. For more information, visit www.natureworksllc.com.