In order to further reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions through out our production, we converted the plastic in the JUST water bottle to plastic derived from plants. The JUST water bottle is now made from 82% renewable resources – materials that grow back.
How is plastic currently made?
It’s made from petroleum (oil). Yes, the same stuff we put in our cars. Petroleum is a fossil fuel that has some drawbacks. You’ve probably heard of global warming. Using fossil fuels for energy or plastic releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. This CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect, which increases global warming.
Finding the most responsible plant
Before we set out to swap out petroleum for plants, we wanted to find the right plant. We looked for the most responsible source. One that wasn’t upsetting food supplies, using chemical fertilizers or has unfair labor practices, and treated the surrounding habitat responsibly.
Responsible land use in Brazil
We wanted to make sure that our sugarcane production wasn’t doing any harm to important biomes by stripping or replacing native vegetation. Also ensuring that appropriate governing bodies were overseeing the policies that are in place:
Brazil’s sugarcane cultivation is concentrated in the center-south region – over 1200km away from the Amazon rainforest. The expansion of the sugarcane area is regulated by the Sugarcane Agroecological Zoning Policy, which prohibits expansion into high-biodiversity areas, such as the Amazon Rainforest and the Pantanal Wetlands.
We knew we could make our plastic from other plants like corn and soy, but we chose sugarcane because it grows very densely. Its area is small compared to the others, requiring less energy and other resources to farm.
(Source: IBGE – lnstituto Brasileiro de Engenharia e Estatfstica)
Sugarcane is a very water efficient plant. It receives practically all the water it needs from natural rainfall. This is great because it isn’t artificially diverting clean water from another use, and it requires less energy.
Absorption of CO2
Plants absorb CO2 from the air as they grow. It’s nature’s way to fight against greenhouse effect. Sugarcane is one of these plants. It’s harvested and regrows, fully, every year, capturing more CO2 from the atmosphere. Because it regenerates, it’s a renewable material that will never run out.
At the end of the milling process, the mills collect a nutrient-rich liquid and use it as a natural fertilizer for next season’s crops. Virtually no chemical fertilizer is used on Brazilian sugarcane.
And Brazilian sugarcane is GMO free.
The sugar mills are at the same location as the fields requiring little in the way of a transportation footprint. Special care is taken to leave excess thatch on the harvested crop lands to act as a natural germinator for next year’s harvest.
Sugar and Ethanol
The sugarcane is separated into two useful products: Edible sugar and a chemical called ethanol, which we make our plastic from. What’s great about this process is we are left with something very cool: A very useful pulp, which, in Brazil they call “Bagasse.”
Bagasse is Biofuel
Bagasse is so special is because it’s a biofuel, a clean and renewable energy source, used to power the entire sugar production process, reducing the need for fossil fuels. It produces enough energy to actually meet the energy needs of the surrounding cities. Almost 130 energy plants sell surplus electricity. Nationally, it’s the third largest energy source.
(Source: Conab – National Supply Company and Unica – Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association)
The ethanol used to make the plastic helps capture and sequester CO2 from the atmosphere. To give you a better understanding :
The production of
annual reduction of
That’s the equivalent of
the annual CO2 emissions of
Based on the CO2 emissions of a car powered by a 1.0 liter gasoline engine that is driven 15km per day per year.
Source: 2006 IPCC Guidelines for Nationsal Greenhouse Emissions.
Source: Brazilian Governmental Ministry of Science and Technology – Nations Climate Change Project