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Is Eco-Friendly Plant-Based Plastic the Next Step in Packaging?

Posted By Jeff Moad, October 12, 2011 at 11:13 AM, in Category: Sustainability

In its latest sustainability report card, CPG giant Proctor & Gamble this week said it intends to expand the use of sustainable plant-based polyethylene plastic bottles for some its product in North America beginning this fall. The move represents the latest and one of the biggest endorsements of the more eco-friendly material which has the potential of replacing petroleum-based PET plastic bottles and packaging.

P&G is moving to plant-based polyethylene manufactured by a Brazilian partner using sustainably-grown sugar cane. The cane is crushed, releasing juice which is fermented and turned into ethanol. The ethanol is then converted into ethylene and combined to make polyethylene. P&G's supplier burns cane byproduct to power the production process.

P&G has been testing the new material in shampoo bottles sold in Europe. Now it is expanding its use in North America.

P&G says that, compared to petroleum-based PET, the plant-based material reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 170% and consumes 70% less fossil fuel.

P&G isn't the only large manufacturer moving toward the new material. Pepsi in March said it was beginning to use PET bottles made from agricultural waste. And, just last month, AT&T said it was beginning to do the same.

Is your company looking at plant-based polyethylene plastic material for packaging. What are the pros and cons of using these materials vs. more traditional materials?



Category: Sustainability
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Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit



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