Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just One Word . . . Plastics

NatureWorks looks to open source to help bioresin replace oil based plastics

By Alan Shimel

It was over 40 years ago that Walter Brooke as Mr. McGuire uttered that famous line to a young Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate". Back then it was very true. New materials technology including injection molding, made plastic a by-product of cheap petroleum a very lucrative industry. Of course now everything is made of plastic. It can be hard as steel or softer than rubber. But oil ain't cheap no more and neither is plastic!

One company, NatureWorks is hoping to replace petroleum based plastic with bio based resins. But they are going one better. They are open sourcing both the formulation and compounding procedure for their green bio based plastic substitute.

Like ethanol, it remains to be seen if the impact of growing more crops for bio-resins won't have an impact on food crops. There is only so much land for farming and the more we use for bio fuels and bio resins, the less we have for growing good, old fashioned food. But then again, we don't have to worry about a gusher sending millions of gallons into the ocean and polluting our waters and beaches.

Seriously though, another example of taking open source source principles and applying them outside of the software industry. I am not sure how NatureWorks monetizes this, but I guess we will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, here's to you Mrs. Robinson.

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