Sugarcane, The Sustainable Polymer - AusAir

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Sugarcane, The Sustainable Polymer

Sugarcane, The Sustainable Polymer

Mar 24, 2023

REDUCING THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF PLASTICS

Sugarcane is a versatile crop that has been used for centuries to produce sugar, ethanol, and other valuable products. It also has the potential as a sustainable alternative to petrochemical polymers, like polypropylene, the most common material used in face mask products.

One of the key advantages of sugarcane production is its significantly reduced carbon footprint when compared to petrochemical polymers. In fact, studies have shown that sugarcane production can have a carbon footprint that is up to 70% lower than that of petrochemical polymers.


THE COST OF PRODUCING PETROCHEMICAL PLASTICS

To understand why sugarcane production has a lower carbon footprint than petrochemical polymers, it's important to first understand how petrochemical polymers are produced. It is a highly energy-intensive process that involves multiple steps, including extraction, refining, transportation, and manufacturing. Each of these steps requires large amounts of energy and generates greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a major contributor to climate change. In fact, it is estimated that the production of petrochemical polymers accounts for approximately 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

WHY SUGARCANE IS DIFFERENT

In contrast, sugarcane production has a much lower carbon footprint because it is a renewable resource that uses photosynthesis to convert CO2 into biomass. This means that as sugarcane grows, it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it in the plant's tissues, including its stalks, leaves, and roots. When sugarcane is harvested and processed, the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere, but because sugarcane is a fast-growing crop, it can quickly capture and store new carbon to replace what has been released.

In addition to its carbon sequestration capabilities, sugarcane production also requires less energy and fewer chemicals than petrochemical polymer production. The sugarcane sourced for our Zero Filter is from Bonsucro certified mills that minimise the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, which can be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, sugarcane processing requires less energy than petrochemical polymer processing, particularly in the case of ethanol production, which can be used as a fuel or a feedstock for other products.


SUGARCANE BASED PRODUCTS, THE WAY OF THE FUTURE

Overall, sugarcane production has a significantly lower carbon footprint than petrochemical polymers, thanks to its ability to sequester carbon, require less energy, and use fewer chemicals. By opting for sugarcane-derived alternatives of everyday products, like face masks and filters, consumers can help reduce their carbon footprint and support the development of a more sustainable and resilient economy.

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