GreenYes Archives

[GreenYes Home] - [Thread Index] - [Date Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]

RE: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

Don makes a good argument for corn/soy-based plastics over petroleum-derived
plastics, but I don't think it's quite that simple particularly when you get
into the area of recycling and how the two types of plastics interact in the
recycling stream. This is an interesting and important dialogue that (in my
mind) needs to continue. Does anyone know what group(s) we might tap into
for more information?

Pat Franklin

-----Original Message-----
From: D Hughes [mailto:djhughes@no.address]
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 10:26 PM
To: Jenny Gitlitz; greenyes
Cc: Maine, Bruce
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

There are two major advantages that corn- or soy-based plastics have over
their petroleum-derived counterparts. First, they are renewable. Second,
they are biodegradable. The consequences of these two advantages, taken
together, are immense: growing corn does not contribute to global warming,
to anywhere near the extent that petroleum does; nor does it create a waste
product which, unless incinerated, lasts virtually forever. Plastic litter
is the most commonly seen pollutant in the world's oceans, and has led to
the death of untold numbers of marine wildlife. That in itself should be
reason to make the switch.
Don Hughes

ps. Cutting back on pork and beef consumption would not be a bad idea,
both in terms of better health and reducing human impacts on the

t 08:48 AM 11/29/2004, Jenny Gitlitz wrote:
>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.
>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
> >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
>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
>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
>To unsubscribe, e-mail: greenyes-unsubscribe@no.address
>For additional commands, e-mail: greenyes-help@no.address

Don Hughes, PhD student *
Dept of Chemistry, 431 Jahn Laboratory *
SUNY-College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Syracuse, NY 13210 *
315-470-6597 djhughes@no.address *
"When I was younger I could remember anything,
whether it happened or not."
Mark Twain (1835-1910); US writer and journalist.

[GreenYes Home] - [Date Index] - [Thread Index]
[Date Prev] - [Date Next] - [Thread Prev] - [Thread Next]