Sunday, November 13, 2011

Organic Renewable Plastic, the Brazilian Future


As oil and gas prices soar, Brazil is planning to become a world hub for plastics made up of plant-based materials, as well as sugar cane.

Try to imagine a plastics factory where you are most likely seeing an industrial eyesore belching smoke and fireplace into the sky at a city's edge. However, Dow Chemical (DOW) and different massive plastics manufacturers have a a lot of bucolic vision of what some plants can appear in the future, and they are heading to Brazil to create them.

The "factories" they need in mind are a lot of like farms: A sugar cane plantation with 11-foot stubble for miles around, surrounding a plastics plant that runs wholly on cane, emits a fraction of the greenhouse gas spewed by standard plants, and by the way, generates enough additional electricity to lightweight a town of five hundred thousands.

Today 9 percent of world's oil production is used in creating plastics, that itself could be a $350 billion-a-year business. However as oil costs rise, Brazil, a country where sugar cane ethanol already fuels most vehicles, is attending to become a worldwide hub for organic plastics—that is, those made of plant-based materials. Brazil's organic plastics are typically labeled "bioplastics" since they're made of plants, however whereas recyclable, they do not soften into the atmosphere when cast-off, like biodegradable plastics do.

No Replacement for ancient Plastics
Brazil is already the number eight producer of petroleum-based plastics, where can soon be the biggest producer of organic ones, in step with Dow and Braskem. Each firms say they've mastered technologies to show sugar cane into polyethylene, the foremost common plastic. By 2012, they targeted 10% of Brazil's plastic can come back from cane rather than petroleum.

To be certain, the bioplastics business will not displace traditional plastics anytime soon. Basically the 1.2 billion pounds of organic plastic that Dow and Braskem commit to manufacture in Brazil by 2012 can meet less than one percent of world plastic demand, that itself is growing by five percent a year. However each firms, in conjunction with Belgium's Solvay ( and Brazil's Petrobras (PBR), hope to make additional such plants within the country.

The drive for substitute plastics is being fuelled by oil costs, eco-minded shoppers, and therefore the economic success of oil substitutes like Brazilian ethanol. Organic plastics are around for ages, however high prices and pesky options in a number of them—such as a bent to soften when exposed to low heat—meant they posed very little threat to the petro plastics that are employed in everything from Zip-Lock luggage to Barbie dolls and condoms.

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