From the Associated Press:
P&G to use sugarcane-based plastic in packaging
(AP) – 1 day ago
CINCINNATI — Consumer products makers Procter & Gamble Co. said Thursday that it will use a plastic derived from sugarcane in the packaging of some of its products.
P&G said the material will be used for Pantene Pro-V, Covergirl, and Max Factor products.
The plastic is made from a process that converts sugarcane into high-density polyethylene. The company says it is 100 percent recyclable.
P&G plans to buy the plastic from the Brazilian company Braskem SA. The first products using the plastic will be sold next year.
Interesting. Sugarcane will take the place of petroleum, so a renewable resource will replace a nonrenewable one. But I have questions:
- Will it take more energy to convert sugarcane to plastic than it currently takes with petroleum?
- Won't this new HDPE plastic still contain phtalates, with all the same health risks as petroleum HDPE?
- Will sugarcane HDPE be recycled along with petroleum HDPE with existing curbside programs, or will it have to be collected and recycled separately?
I hate it when manufacturers say "please recycle" without telling consumers HOW.
August 18 UPDATE: Jenny from P&G Responds! See the original in comments to this post.
This is Jenny from P&G - I work on this project, and I saw your blog, so I thought I would answer your questions! If you have any more questions, feel free to email me and I'd be happy to chat.
- We've done a Life Cycle Assessment which shows it takes considerably less energy to make the sugarcane plastic than the current petroleum plastic. Also, the facilities which make the sugarcane ethanol run on energy produced from the sugarcane by-products (bagasse) i.e. renewable energy. In fact, they produce more energy than the use, so they return it to the grid in Brazil.
- The HDPE sugarcane plastic won't contain phtalates.
- Yes, the new sugarcane HDPE will be able to be recycled in existing curbside programs, as it can be recycled together with petroleum HDPE in current municipal recycling facilities - no sorting required. This is one of the things which makes the sugarcane plastic a good choice as a sustainable renewable plastic.
thanks for your interest,