Sugarcane: an alternative to plastic packaging?

sugarcane packaging

We all love the taste of sugar, but it’s not just for consumption. Sugarcane “plastic” is the latest development in sugar use, used in packaging for drink bottles to cleaning products. A plant-based packaging alternative to plastic, it’s great to see that sugarcane is being adopted by a number of brands.

The process for making plant-based plastic from sugar cane is made up of pioneering technology. The first ‘crushing’ phase of processing releases the sugar juices which are used to create the sugar we know and love. The following ‘crushing’ phases break down the sugar cane further which is then used to create ethanol, a plant-based alcohol. The next part is where new technology comes in. The ethanol is turned in a plant-based ‘green’ polyethylene that has the same physical properties as conventional polyethylene made from oil.

What Are The Benefits?

While sugarcane plastic isn’t biodegradable, it is 100 percent recyclable. Sugarcane also absorbs carbon dioxide. The fact that it absorbs one of our biggest pollutants makes it far superior to oil. Oil-based plastics require mining for oil, and this process releases carbon from the Earth’s soil, into our air. This process is a real kicker for climate change. The less we rely on oil-based products, the better.

One of the perks of growing sugarcane is its resilience. It can grow in the weakest of pastures and actually helps recover the soil. Sugarcane waste known as bagasse is also used to generate electricity that powers the ethanol production process.

Sugarcane Origins

With Brazil producing the majority of the world’s sugarcane supply, there is a strict government framework in place to make sure biodiversity is protected. The pastures where sugarcane is grown, are located between 2000-2500km away from the Amazon Rain Forest. This means that when the farmers burn-off the sugar cane leaves, which absorb the carbon dioxide, there is no impact on the crucial plant and wildlife within the Amazon.

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