Bioplastics Carve Out Niche

by | Oct 23, 2007

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Plastics made from corn and other plants are carving a tiny niche from the market for conventional petroleum-based plastics and being touted as green alternatives for everything from bulk food containers to lipstick tubes To gift cards and clothing fiber, AP reports.

While seen as a way to boost recycling and reduce the 10 percent share of U.S. petroleum consumption that goes into plastic, green plastics aren’t without fault: manufacturing bioplastics produces carbon dioxide, the crops needed to make it require land and water, and genetically modified organisms are used to spur the fermentation that creates them.

They also can cost three times more than conventional plastics, which gives businesses pause about adopting them.

The market’s newest entrant is Mirel, from Metabolix Inc. The most widely used bioplastic, NatureWorks, is a product of a subsidiary of Cargill Inc. It’s already used in dozens of products, including water bottles.

Other bioplastics that biodegrade to some degree include Ecoflex, Mater-Bi, and Cereplast. DuPont Co. and Braskem SA make recyclable bioplastic that isn’t biodegradable.

Green Toys plans to introduce a line of bioplastic toys using Cereplast. Target has launched a new gift card made using Mirel biobased plastic that is now available in 129 Target stores nationwide.

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