A renewable resource is a natural resource which replenishes to overcome resource depletion caused by usage and consumption, either through biological reproduction or other naturally recurring processes in a finite amount of time in a human time scale. It’s the “human time scale” part that really matters. Also, if we’re using up the resource faster than it can replenish itself, it can end up with a non-renewable sticker slapped on it pretty darn quickly. We feel this way about weekends.
In all seriousness, we’ve heard the concerns about whether today’s plant-based ingredient sources are truly renewable. Between potential pesticide use and mono crops, none of us want to replace fossil fuels with another source that ends up getting depleted faster than we can replace it or does more damage than good. We get it.
The majority of our plant-based food packaging starts from a base of “PLA” or polylactic acid. Our supplier partners do a great job of digging out every last nugget of data and publishing comprehensive, fact-driven insights. Based on the most recent data, current bioplastic production uses materials from less than 0.04% of annual corn crops. The building blocks for Ingeo(TM) biopolymers are currently dextrose and sucrose that is derived from corn processing, so while there would be no impact on available feed from this 0.04%, we do have to make a choice between using the by-product ingredients to make bioplastics rather than things like soda and, thankfully, apparently also licorice.
However, this is today’s method. Things are changing as quickly as smart phone technology so that biopolymers and plant-based plastics can be made from agricultural waste and even CO2 re-capture and conversion. We’ve also expanded our portfolio to include more products made from sugarcane, fiber and other rapidly renewable feedstocks.
We remain firmly committed to our goal to kick fossil fuels to the curb sooner rather than later – even if some argue that the renewable and plant-based ingredients today aren’t perfect. They’ve still got to be better than digging up our dinosaur ancestors to make packaging, right?