Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 55

according to “The New Plastics Economy.” To get a sense of its scale, consider that after a short first-use cycle, 95 percent of plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy, notes the report. That represents $80 billion to $120 billion annually. Companies need packaging, and they spend a lot of money on it, Bissell explains. They do so to prevent leakage, safeguard against public health risks, prevent their products from break- age, reduce food waste by extending shelf life and to bring packaging weight down (thereby reducing fuel consumption for transportation), according to the Ellen MacArthur report. Plastic does the job of packaging remarkably well. For Bissell, bioplastics provide an opportunity to improve packaging — both the greenhouse gases used to make it, and the cost to companies. There’s plenty of interest from major companies look- ing to move in a green direction. Coca-Cola, for instance, developed its 30 percent plant-based PlantBottle in 2009. According to a recent press release, the company has since distributed more than 35 billion of these biosourced bottles in nearly 40 countries, saving an estimated 315,000 met- ric tons of carbon dioxide. In 2015, Coca-Cola unveiled the world’s first 100-percent plant-based PET bottle at a world expo in Milan. The next — and much more impactful step — is for the company to make more than a few bottles. Bissell says Origin is the closest to making biosourced PET bottles commercially-available. Back in Origin’s early years, the company had a small team; now they have more than 50 employees — scientists, engineers, commercial and startup folks — with about half based at the West Sacramento headquarters, and the rest spread around the country, Bissell says. Origin has recruit- ed people from Dow, DuPont and other major companies to build, as Bissell calls it, a “new chemical company.” THE AGE OF RECYCLING In the 2014 book Plastic Purge, scientist Mike SanClements traces the skyrocketing use of plastic back to savvy compa- nies that “pulled off one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all times.” The Society of Plastics Engineers aimed to convince consumers of the value of plastic, which the U.S. had in abundance following World War II. They did so, ac- cording to the book, by leveraging the first National Plastics Exposition in New York City in 1946 for 87,000 attendees that painted plastics as “futuristic and marvelous.” A decade lat- er, the biotech company Monsanto constructed “The Home of the Future” in Anaheim, Calif., which was made entirely of plastic. EXCEEDING QUALITY STANDARDS Our annual Water Quality Reports have been released for 2017. They show that once again our water quality in Sacramento has met and exceeded all state and federal standards. Learn more at WE KEEP LIFE FLOWING ™ June 2018 | 61