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MINNEAPOLIS -- NatureWorks LLC, based here, was recognized at the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol meetings in Montreal last week for the company's proactive initiatives that are helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions and grow the global renewable energy industry.
Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) hailed NatureWorks as one of the major contributors to record growth in "green power." NatureWorks earned this distinction by contracting for an initial 59,000 MWh per year of Green-e certified wind renewable energy credits (RECs), making the company one of the biggest U.S. purchasers of wind-related power.
The company's green power purchase offsets all of the energy needed to run the world's biggest industrial bio-polymer manufacturing facility, including a 400 million-pound lactic acid plant. The facility uses ordinary field corn to make a plastic resin, NatureWorks(R) PLA, which is used in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific to make food containers, cups, bottles, utensils, baby wipes, carpet tiles and apparel, among other everyday consumer goods. The use of renewable energy additionally offsets the already low greenhouse gas emissions of the company's manufacturing process, resulting in the world's first greenhouse-gas neutral polymer.
"Our annually renewable feedstock, corn, already offers a significant reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, compared to petroleum-based plastics," said NatureWorks v.p. and c.m.o. Dennis McGrew in a statement. "The achievement of a greenhouse-gas neutral position through the use of green energy gives our corn-derived polymer a significant competitive advantage vs. other polymers such as PET --specifically, a more than than 65 percent reduction in fossil fuel used to manufacture a commercial-grade plastic."
NatureWorks is part of the WRI's Green Power Market Development Group, a unique commercial and industrial partnership devoted to growing corporate markets for green power such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, certified low-impact hydro, and fuel cells. Group members are among the largest nonutility buyers of renewable energy in the United States.
NatureWorks LLC, a stand-alone company wholly owned by Cargill, is the first company to offer a family of commercially available polymers derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources with cost and performance that compete with petroleum-based packaging materials and fibers. The company's proprietary polylactide polyme is marketed under the NatureWorks PLA and Ingeo fibers brand names.