I'll be quite cheered when reports of sustainable resins have more now and less future in them.
In the meantime, a glimmer of reduced petrochemical dependency is flickering on the horizon. The first linear polyethylene made from 100% renewable raw materials has been announced by Braskem the mundanely monikered Brazilian chemical giant. The material has been through pilot production and a new plant, capable of making 200,000 tons a year, is under construction. The Green PE is made from 100% renewable sugar cane. It is produced from the dehydration of ethanol from sugar canes (much more efficient than corn based ethanol) and then polymerized into green polyethylene. Braskem claims that the plants used in one ton of resin will capture two and a half tons of CO2. The resin is scheduled to be available in 2011. The initial tons are earmarked for containers of the Johnson & Johnson Sundown brand of sustainable sunscreen products.
It will be interesting to know how the embedded energy of the product compares to existing polyethylene. Brazil has the worlds most efficient sugar cane to ethanol industry and uses waste from the canes to fuel production.
Image from myearthware.com