by Glenn Meyers
New plastic bottles are being introduced to the consumer marketplace, made primarily from sugar cane instead of petroleum.
Proctor & Gamble's Pantene brand shampoo bottles that are made from sugarcane will represent the newest development in new forms of sustainable packaging. The bottles are scheduled to be released in Western Europe by mid-year. The product brand will be "Nature Fusion."
The technology to create plastic from plant material is fairly new. Its use for commercial packaging is even newer. Beverage companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have begun using plant-based plastic for their soda bottles.
According to P & G, Pantene is the first major hair care brand to use this new type of sustainable packaging. Switching to sustainable shampoo bottles for Nature Fusion is part of Procter & Gamble's overall sustainability strategy, which includes a 25 percent switch from petroleum-derived packaging to sustainable packaging by 2020.
European consumers can expect to see the new plant-based bottle on shelves in summer 2011. No release date has been announced for these bottles in the United States. P&G claims the sustainable shampoo bottles will look and function the same as their petroleum-derived predecessors. The plant-based plastic shampoo bottles can be tossed in the recycling bin just like any other plastic bottle.
While they may look like other plastic bottles, plant-based plastic bottles have a reduced environmental impact. The bottle made from natural and renewable sugarcane instead of a complete fossil fuel formula. The bottle uses 70 percent less fossil fuel in the production process. P&G reports that using plant-based material for plastic bottles decreases greenhouse gas output by 170 percent.
Some recycling groups have applauded the efforts to replace petroleum-based products, however, they are quick to point out that say some plant-based plastics aren't as recyclable as they might appear. A number of recycling facilities aren't yet set up to handle the plastic.
David Cornell, technical director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, told Associated Press that high-density polyethylene made from plant material is identical, "chemically and functionally," to polyethylene made from natural gas liquids."
Reprinted with permission from Cleantechnica