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Re: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

On 11/29/04 8:12 AM, Maine, Bruce at Bruce.Maine@no.address wrote:

> Sacrificing food resources for consumer goods doesn't seem
> to make a lot of sense

From what I understand, "sacrificing" food resources is not an issue. There
is a surplus of corn grown in the U.S.--subsidization accounting for the
glut. Also--the vast majority of corn grown in the U.S. is used as cattle
feed, not as a direct food source for humans. If we were all to become
vegetarians or vegans, we could probably cut the land (and water & energy)
used to grow our agricultural products by 80-90% (not to mention ag wastes).

From what I understand, the energy inputs used to grow and process
corn-based plastics may exceed the energy value of comparable plastic resin
from petroleum. I have not seen a complete life-cycle analysis on this, so I
can't vouch for this. I am curious to learn if this can be done with net
energy savings over traditional plastics manufacture.

Other factors must be kept in mind, too: pesticide use, for one. American
corn manufacture is a monocrop process that is pesticide-, fertilizer-, and
water-intensive, and reduces the potential (=historical) biodiversity of the
plains. Trading one monocrop output (beef) for another (corn plastics)
doesn't seem like a big win for our society. If the corn could be grown
organically, intercropped with other grains, and bred to be
drought-tolerant, the overall picture might be different.


Jennifer Gitlitz
Research Director, Container Recycling Institute

Home Office:
2 Pomeroy Ave.
Dalton, MA 01226
Tel. (413) 684-4746
Mobile: (413) 822-0115
Fax: (413) 403-0233
Email: jgitlitz@no.address

Please note the new address for CRI¹s main office:
Container Recycling Institute
1601 North Kent St., Suite 803
Arlington, VA 22209-2105
Tel. (703) 276-9800
Fax: (703) 276-9587

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