New technology to transform cooking oil to plastic—a lower chemical footprint?
This is an exciting period of material innovation, as manufacturers explore new frontiers in making chemicals and plastics from fossil fuel alternatives. With growing demand for products with environmentally friendly credentials, the chemical manufacturer SABIC plans to dip into the deep fat fryer and use cooking oil and waste fat as the feedstock for low-density and linear polyethylene – plastics used in food packaging and other flexible plastic products. The Saudi Arabia-based company will produce a line of these polyolefins at its plant in Geerlen, Netherlands. On the face of it, the project looks greener for a plastic. Instead of fossil fuels, convert waste into a new material. While polyethylene looks to be of the less bad sort of plastic, what we remain intrigued to know is: What are the catalysts and additives used to make the polyethylene? What is the full chemical footprint of that plastic? We applaud the use of waste for material -- now come clean and tell us what’s in that “greener” material.