Plastic bottles made of sugar cane
Each year, around 20 million barrels of oil are used in the production of plastic bottles. In most cases, the bottles are made from the plastic polyethylene terephthalate, better known as PET. This material is in turn composed of two components: terephthalic acid (70 percent) and monoethylene glycol (MEG, 30 percent).
Today, it is possible to produce MEG from bio-alchohol, which is derived from natural resources such as sugar cane. This means that around 20 percent of the carbon dioxide used in the petroleum-based manufacturing can be saved. The aim is to produce terephthalic acid as the main component of PET from biological raw materials. This should be achieved by 2020.
In support of this aim, an alliance of well-known corporations from the consumer goods, automobile and textile industries have joined forces. Critics, however, complain that the bio-based bottles, like the conventional PET bottles, do not decompose. Thus, the carbon taken from nature for the plastic production cannot be channelled back into the material cycle. Nevertheless, manufacturers are investing in improved recycling processes.