Can Plastic Be Made Environmentally Friendly?

Bioplastics Development Center at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, MA.

Mark Herrema’s road to making renewable plastics without oil wasn’t easy.

The 31-year-old Princeton graduate set aside his studies in politics and medical school plans to pursue his passion to make a plastic from methane, a colorless gas and a common byproduct on farms. He and his business partner, Kenton Kimmel, slowly built their enterprise working odd jobs like hotel bellhops and valets.

A decade later, private equity firms are backing their company, Newlight Technologies, and they’ve built two facilities to produce plastic pellets called AirCarbon.

The world produced an estimated 288 million metric tons of plastics in 2012, up from 99 million in 1989. Millions of barrels of crude oil is used to make this plastic, much of which is used only once and then thrown away.

As the world tries to move away from fossil fuels, companies are trying to make plastics from renewable sources, using resources like corn, methane and bacteria.

While the efforts so far are mostly on a small scale, they have the potential to transform how everyday materials are made, from plastic soda bottles to the plastic used in computers and cars, even the plastics used in clothes and furniture.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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