Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Potatoes, algae replacing oil in plastics
Calgary Herald ^ | December 21, 2009 | Virginie Montet

Posted on 12/21/2009 1:16:48 PM PST by thackney

Frederic Scheer is biding his time, convinced that by 2013 the price of oil will be so high that his bio-plastics, made from vegetables and plants, will be highly marketable.

Scheer, 55, is the owner of Cereplast, a company that designs and makes sustainable plastics from starches found in tapioca, corn, wheat and potatoes.

He has believed for the past 20 years that the price of oil will eventually make petroleum-based plastics obsolete and clear the way for his alternative.

"The tipping point for us is 95 dollars a barrel," he said. At that price "our product becomes cheaper" than traditional plastic.

"The day where we hit 95 dollars a barrel I think all of a sudden you're going to see bio-plastics basically explode," he said.

According to Scheer, once oil prices are consistently that high, which he expects to be the case around 2013, major chemical companies like Dupont and BASF will have no choice but to join him in bio-plastics.

By 2020, he expects the U.S. market for the plastics to be worth US$10 billion, up from its current value of about US$1 billion.

The world market for traditional oil-based plastics is estimated to be worth US$2.500 trillion.

Cereplast, which has 25 employees in California and in Indiana, has accumulated a series of patents for the technology it uses to create the bio-plastics.

With annual sales of US$5 million, Cereplast manufactures resins that biodegrade naturally within three months for use in products including cups, plastic lids and packaging.

They also produce "hybrid" resins of polypropylene that are stronger and more durable, for use in cars or children's toys.

"In using our resin, we basically inject up to 50 per cent agricultural renewable resources... giving them a better carbon footprint," said Scheer.

"Each time you create one kilo of traditional polypropylene, you create 3.15 kilos of carbon dioxide. When we create one kilo of bio-propylene, we create 1.40 kilos of carbon dioxide, so clearly you have a substantial saving with respect to greenhouse gases, creating a much better carbon footprint for the product," he said.

Creating plastics that are biodegradable is key, Scheer says, because just 3.5 per cent of polypropylene plastic in the United States gets recycled.

Around 70 per cent of all plastic waste "ends up in landfills and stays there a very long time," he said.

Americans go through 110 billion plastic or plastic-covered cups each year, using and discarding what the Food Packaging Institute describes as "astronomical numbers" of disposable containers.

"It takes between 70 to 100 million years to make fossil fuel and you are going to use your cup at Starbucks for 45 minutes max," said Scheer.

But using potatoes and corn to produce billions of tonnes of bio-plastics might not be the most sustainable business plan either, as spikes in food prices in 2008 illustrated.

So Scheer is also looking at algae.

"Algae presents the same kind of physical and thermal property that we find in starches," he said. "We can grow algae extremely fast, in very large quantities, at a very low price."

Cereplast hopes to offer a plastic made with algae for commercial sale by the end of 2010 and is projecting its annual sales will have doubled by then.

The success is bittersweet for Scheer, who was born in Paris but has become known as the one of the "grandfathers" of the bio-plastics industry in the United States, rather than his home country.

"The United States are a land of opportunity for the entrepreneur," he said. "I regret that France didn't give me that kind of opportunity."


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: algae; oil; plastics; potatoes

1 posted on 12/21/2009 1:16:50 PM PST by thackney
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: thackney

Oh good, more things we can turn our food into, instead of eating it. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm


2 posted on 12/21/2009 1:20:00 PM PST by Gator113 (Obama is America's First Failed Black Pres-dent.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gator113
tapioca, corn, wheat and potatoes

Not just plain old food but far more importantly:

Desert and Liquor!

3 posted on 12/21/2009 1:22:43 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: thackney

What if by Jan.20, 2013...we have a President Palin and she “drills here, drills now”.

Hey, it could happen!

We’d have plenty of oil. No more oil money being sent to the terrorists.

We’ve got a Kenyan usurper, and no one would have thought that possible either back when “Kenyan Born Obama Wins Senate Seat” was the title of a news article.


4 posted on 12/21/2009 1:24:22 PM PST by TheConservativeParty (Take back the GOP-RNC. Apply RINO-B-GONE as needed.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thackney

Coo-coo-ca-choo...invest in Plastics!


5 posted on 12/21/2009 1:24:32 PM PST by JPG (Al Gore, the several million degree man.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thackney

Almost like Bush saying that saw grass will save us from oil imports ...


6 posted on 12/21/2009 1:26:09 PM PST by SkyDancer ('Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not..' ~ Thomas Jefferson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thackney

“Desert and Liquor!”

That’s it... it’s time for war!!


7 posted on 12/21/2009 1:28:22 PM PST by Gator113 (Obama is America's First Failed Black Pres-dent.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: thackney

This just might put a dent in his plans, but then again maybe this is why he is pushing the story now so all of those genius investors can pad his decent.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2411876/posts


8 posted on 12/21/2009 1:34:47 PM PST by mazda77 (Rubio for US Senate - West FL22nd - Dockery for Gov.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thackney

Florida also does not allow its entrepreneurs opportunities...that’s why they set up shop elsewhere and create jobs elsewhere...


9 posted on 12/21/2009 1:39:37 PM PST by stefanbatory (Weed out the RINOs! Sign the pledge. conservativepledge.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thackney

Methinks Scheer is ignoring the increased cost of energy input in order to make his bio plastic.


10 posted on 12/21/2009 1:40:48 PM PST by stylin_geek (Greed and envy is used by our political class to exploit the rich and poor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: mazda77
Methane is a far, far simpler molecule than most of that contained in crude oil.
11 posted on 12/21/2009 1:47:36 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: stefanbatory

Interesting, I am familiar with this company in Florida.

http://petroalgae.com/


12 posted on 12/21/2009 1:49:16 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: thackney

he must be a cousin to someone high up in his local government then...


13 posted on 12/21/2009 1:52:08 PM PST by stefanbatory (Weed out the RINOs! Sign the pledge. conservativepledge.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: thackney

“PO-TA-TOES: Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, put ‘em in the styrofoam...”


14 posted on 12/21/2009 1:54:13 PM PST by mikrofon (Lord of the Carbon Rings)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: thackney

Dream on - Poly Ethylene, the most popular plastic, is made from natural gas and we have tons of that.


15 posted on 12/21/2009 1:55:17 PM PST by blackminorca
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: blackminorca

A lot of the a mixture of gases used in plastics such as ethylene, ethane, propane, propylene is produced from the cracking of crude oil. We also get them from Natural Gas, but I am not sure the majority comes from Natural Gas.


16 posted on 12/21/2009 2:02:52 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: thackney

“but I am not sure the majority comes from Natural Gas.”

It does - probably 80 - 90 % derived from natural gas feedstocks.


17 posted on 12/21/2009 3:49:38 PM PST by blackminorca
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: blackminorca

Can you point to anything that show that?

I found for propane about equal shares comes from refinery versus natural gas.

Propane Education & Research Council
http://www.propanecouncil.org/Facts.aspx


18 posted on 12/21/2009 6:57:25 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: thackney

here is a link for 80% but this is to grow - they have new processes that go directly from NG to ethylene monomer in one step.


19 posted on 12/21/2009 7:03:48 PM PST by blackminorca
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: blackminorca

I don’t see a link?


20 posted on 12/21/2009 7:06:29 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: thackney

http://earth911.com/plastic/plastic-bags/facts-about-plastic-bags/


21 posted on 12/21/2009 7:10:38 PM PST by blackminorca
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: blackminorca

Thank you.


22 posted on 12/21/2009 7:21:10 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: blackminorca

By the way, although Polyethlene is more common in bags, polypropylene is gaining in its uses, and other uses.

Polypropylene (PP) Applications
http://www.ides.com/generics/PP/PP_applications.htm


23 posted on 12/21/2009 7:25:46 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson