This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 10, 2002

Factory Starts Full-Scale Production of Plastics from Corn

Cargill Dow LLC announced last week the grand opening of the world's first global-scale manufacturing facility to make commercial-grade plastic from a renewable resource. Cargill Dow's new facility in Blair, Nebraska, will use up to 40,000 bushels of corn each day and is capable of producing more than 300 million pounds of polylactide (PLA) each year. Sold under the NatureWorks trade name, the PLA will be used as a fiber for clothing and bedding and as a plastic for food packaging and other uses. In fact, the properties of the PLA fiber are exceptional enough to earn a designation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as a new generic fiber, joining the ranks of polyester and natural fibers such as cotton.

According to Cargill Dow, the production cycle of PLA consumes up to 50 percent less fossil fuels than traditional petroleum-based plastics, and PLA production will produce from 15 to 60 percent less greenhouse gas than the materials it will replace. The company intends to invest $250 million over the next several years for commercial development and product technology development, as well as for research into ways to produce PLA from other plants and even agricultural wastes. See the Cargill Dow press releases.

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