Ingeo Plastic Made from Plants Achieves a New Eco Plateau Reducing CO2 Emissions by 35%

UPDATED DATA: October 9, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., February 10, 2009  --  NatureWorks LLC has achieved a manufacturing breakthrough with its Ingeo™ plastics made from plants, not oil. A new, proprietary fermentation process commissioned late last year has lowered CO2 emissions by 35 percent and reduced by 16 percent the fossil energy required to produce Ingeo plastics compared to previous Ingeo production. A series of energy saving projects now in development could produce further reductions in each of these key metrics.

The following charts show the improvements in the Ingeo ecoprofile already achieved from the new fermentation process, as well as the anticipated future advances from energy savings projects at the plant.


*CIT is currently implemented technology


*CIT is currently implemented technology

Through the advanced new fermentation process, Ingeo outperforms all of the most commonly used petroleum-based plastics in terms of CO2 emissions and fossil fuel usage. In determining the ecoprofile for the new Ingeo technology, NatureWorks calculated every significant input and output from seed planting to plastic resin being shipped through the factory’s gate.

The recent breakthrough in the ecoprofile brought about by the new fermentation process follows a decade-long collaborative research and development effort exploring advanced lactic acid production technologies. Research organizations involved include NatureWorks’ parent, Cargill, and a network of biotechnology firms, universities, and government research laboratories. The effort was supported in part by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, totaling about $25 million.

“This new fermentation production technology comes at a time when governments across the world are renewing efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Steve Davies, NatureWorks director of communications and public affairs. “Since its introduction, Ingeo has satisfied a market need for performance plastics and fibers with better eco-credentials. Today, the environmental piece of this equation takes a major step forward with the new fermentation process in place. That’s good news for the many companies across the globe that produce attractive, affordable consumer products from Ingeo plastics — everything from natural plastic food packaging and food service ware, to clothing, house wares, personal care products, and consumer electronics.”

In 2002, Ingeo was the first biopolymer to reach the plastics and fibers market in commercial quantities. From 2006 through 2008, NatureWorks purchased Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to improve the biopolymer’s already solid environmental performance. With this latest Ingeo environmental and energy breakthrough from the new fermentation process, NatureWorks will no longer purchase RECs. The company will continue, however, to offer the REC option to every organization that has corporate goals for green energy use.

Davies concludes, “With even more advantages now, Ingeo plastics and fibers should be investigated by every manufacturer, brand owner, and retailer that is serious about a smart alternative to petroleum-based products.”

Companies in Europe, the Americas, and Asia that are looking for greater sustainability and performance in plastics or fibers should visit the NatureWorks website to locate the nearest sales office. Consumers are encouraged to visit the NatureWorks website to learn more about the many products made from plants, not oil.

About NatureWorks LLC
NatureWorks LLC is a company dedicated to meeting the world’s needs today without compromising the earth’s ability to meet the needs of tomorrow. NatureWorks LLC is the first company to offer a family of commercially available low carbon footprint biopolymers derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources with performance and economics that compete with oil-based plastics and fibers.


Ingeo and the Ingeo logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NatureWorks LLC in the USA and other countries.


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