Plant-based raw materials to produce consumer goods?





New York :  Imagine wearing trousers made out of corn or a T-shirt made of sugar. With bio-based raw materials coming to the fore, this could, in fact, be the future of the consumer goods industry.

Scientists have reported a new wave, albeit a small one, of consumer goods that are produced from plants rather than petroleum-based materials.

According to Melody M. Bomgardner, senior editor at Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, a range of companies from start-up firms to industrial giants have been searching for ways to fill a growing consumer demand for sustainable materials.

“Invista and Genomatica say they will pursue nylon intermediates from sugar. Coca-Cola is making progress toward a 100 percent bio-based soda bottle (they are already at 30 percent),” Bomgardner wrote in his article.

But a complete transition to a bio-based economy will not be easy, he added.

“The main challenge to this shift is economics. Prices for bio-based raw materials to feed the supply chain must drop to competitive levels and manufacturers must invest in new facilities to process the raw materials,” said Bomgardner.

And, ultimately, it is the consumers’ pocketbooks that will likely decide just how far this trend will go, he concluded.

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