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Turning CO2 into Plastic Packaging

novomerA new technology from Novomer promises to use carbon dioxide as a feedstock for producing packaging and coating applications. Novomer says the the process uses half as much energy as traditional plastics manufacturing, reports Plastics Today.

Novomer, which along with Eastman Kodak intends to commercialize the process, received funding of $400,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, reports The Boston Globe.

The process could produce bottles and plastic shrink wrap that is used in numerous consumer packaged goods applications. The new plastic also offers an improved oxygen barrier, which will help preserve some sensitive perishable items.

The plastic also has improved impact resistance and stiffness, meaning that less plastic is needed. The resulting weight loss will have positive implications for energy and transportation costs throughout the supply chain, Novomer says.

The technology was developed at Cornell University.

In 2008, Novomer announced its first product, NB-180, a poly(propylene carbonate) (PPC) sacrificial binder that the company says burns cleaner, more uniformly and at lower temperatures than other available products.

Novomer’s new product is not the only environmentally friendly plastic being developed.

In early December, Tetra Pak, known for its beverage and food containers, began working with a Brazilian petrochemical company to buy high-density polyethylene derived solely from renewable feedstock.

Also, Coca-Cola has begun the long-awaited global rollout of its PlantBottle and by the end of 2010 it expects to have sold more than 2 billion units.

The multi-brand bottler began testing the plant-based PET bottle earlier this year on the U.S. West Coast, under the Dasani water brand. The bottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and as much as 30 percent plant-based materials in the U.S.

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2 thoughts on “Turning CO2 into Plastic Packaging

  1. Your article does not answer the question: is this newly developed plastic product recyclable or biodegradable? Seems if we are truly moving to a sustainable environment, this fundamental issue would have been addressed in your article. With regard to Coca-Cola, while it’s good news about their PlantBottle, how are they addressing their water usage in India? 1.5 million liters per day extracted from the country – native peoples now have to walk more than 10 miles one way just to get water for their family. How is that sustainable?

  2. @Celeste – Great comments. I looked around and this is what is on Novomer’s website:
    “NB-180 is an amorphous, colorless thermoplastic polymer (polypropylene carbonate) which decomposes into environmentally benign products making it the perfect solution for broad applications in the electronics, brazing and ceramics industries.”
    Also, here is an article from MIT Technology review, dated 2 years ago but seems to indicate that Novomer plastics are biodegradable. Doesn’t say anything about recyclability.
    And I totally agree with you about Coca-Cola, withdrawing over 1/2 billion liters of water per year from India is not in any way sustainable.

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