Friday, August 12, 2016

Ingeo, an ecologically sustainable replacement for oil-based plastics and fibers

Ingeo? Is that a psych-rock band from the 80's?

Nope. It's a new material, with extremely broad applications in textiles, fibers, durable plastics and packing.

What, exactly, is it?

Ingeo is a bio-based material that comes from plants, instead of oil. Produced by NatureWorks in 2003, Ingeo has grown to find itself in a wide variety of markets and industries, representing the growth of ecologically sensible and environmentally friendly materials.

It's made from 100% annually renewable resources. Starting its production (usually) from sugars found in plants, particularly field corn, Ingeo uses less than 1/20th of 1% of the world's annual corn production, contributing what they claim to be little to no impact on international or local food chains.

For those of you GMO-skeptics or GMO-phobes who can't stand the thought of us taking what we've already been doing since the dawn of time to a more microcosmic genetic level, Ingeo doesn't require or use genetically modified materials. The plant based sugars used in the biopolymer's production is certified by Genescan to contain no genetically modified material of any kind. Alternative to corn, sugar from the sugar beet, sugar cane and wheat crops could be used in its production.

Is its production ecologically friendly?

NatureWorks, from an outside perspective, appears obsessive about their eco-profile. Seeking to compete with fossil fuels and provide a green alternative to oil-based products, Ingeo's 'plastic' generates almost 60% less emissions and uses 50% less non-renewable energy in its production. The company, not believing that this is a good enough margin, continues to seek innovations that would further increase the ecological competitiveness of Ingeo in comparison to its dirty petroleum opponents.

The future is not and cannot be based in non-renewable resources. 

Moving towards sustainability will require us to cut down, tremendously, on our fossil fuel consumption. By taking small steps towards replacing petroleum products in our day-to-day life, we can help natural and bio-based materials reclaim a decent and (hopefully one day) substantial share of the market. Unsustainable dependence on ecosystem annihilating resources must be met head on in all industries - all that needs to be done now is to inject this demand into mainstream thought. Celebrities and fashion-designers debuting clothes made from biopolymers and sustainably sourced plant-based material would greatly improve our path towards an ethical and sustainable green future.

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