Consumer Technology

Published on April 29th, 2011 | by Glenn Meyers


Shampoo Will Use Plastic Bottles Made From Sugar Cane

April 29th, 2011 by  

New plastic bottles are being introduced to the consumer marketplace, made primarily from sugar cane instead of petroleum.

Proctor & Gamble’s Pantene brand shampoo bottles that are made from sugarcane will represent the newest development in new forms of sustainable packaging. The bottles are scheduled to be released in Western Europe by mid-year. The product brand will be “Nature Fusion.”

The technology to create plastic from plant material is fairly new. Its use for commercial packaging is even newer. Beverage companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have begun using plant-based plastic for their soda bottles.

According to P & G, Pantene is the first major hair care brand to use this new type of sustainable packaging. Switching to sustainable shampoo bottles for Nature Fusion is part of Procter & Gamble’s overall sustainability strategy, which includes a 25 percent switch from petroleum-derived packaging to sustainable packaging by 2020.

European consumers can expect to see the new plant-based bottle on shelves in summer 2011. No release date has been announced for these bottles in the United States. P&G claims the sustainable shampoo bottles will look and function the same as their petroleum-derived predecessors. The plant-based plastic shampoo bottles can be tossed in the recycling bin just like any other plastic bottle.

While they may look like other plastic bottles, plant-based plastic bottles have a reduced environmental impact. The bottle made from natural and renewable sugarcane instead of a complete fossil fuel formula. The bottle uses 70 percent less fossil fuel in the production process. P&G reports that using plant-based material for plastic bottles decreases greenhouse gas output by 170 percent.

Some recycling groups have applauded the efforts to replace petroleum-based products, however, they are quick to point out that say some plant-based plastics aren’t as recyclable as they might appear. A number of recycling facilities aren’t yet set up to handle the plastic.

David Cornell, technical director of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, told Associated Press that high-density polyethylene made from plant material is identical, “chemically and functionally,” to polyethylene made from natural gas liquids.”

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • sola

    It is excellent that the cane version is exactly the same chemically as the petro version so established recycling systems don’t suffer a cost penalty with the new material.

  • Loweryjk

    How can you reduce something by more than 100%?
    I’m guessing that is a typo and should be 70%?

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and do these still have BPA as an additive?

  • Anonymous

    Sugar cane is horrible for water supply. Here in Hawaii we are constantly fighting over water rights, I con’t imagine how bad it would be if the plantations came back.
    Also see Vandana Shiva’s Water Wars.

    • Anonymous

      Hawaii might not be the best place to grow cane.

      We grew it on one of our farms in Tennessee as part of our silage crop. Grew it with zero irrigation.

      • Anonymous

        Good to know. (And I was born and raised in TN, howdy!)

        • Anonymous

          Which part? I grew up a bit north of Knoxville. Left there a half-century ago.

          • Anonymous

            Murfreesboro, about 20 miles south-east of Nashville. Home of the world’s largest cedar bucket.

  • Anonymous

    A couple of questions.

    Cost? Not so much current cost, but projected costs once the technology gets scaled up. Where’s the breakeven price with oil?

    Dual use of sugar cane? Is this made from the fiber left over after sugar extraction or from the sap/sugar? It’s doubly good if it’s a fiber-based product which would leave the sap available for sugar/ethanol.

    • sola

      I suspect the cost is comparable to petroleum based otherwise a profit-oriented company would not use it.

      It is also possible that the bottle is such a small part of the full cost of the product that PG use it even if it is more expensive then the petro version.

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