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Beyond the Gas Tank: Sugarcane Unlimited

by Joel Velasco on Jun 22, 2010

To realize the great potential of sugarcane in renewable applications, look no further than today’s announcement of a joint venture between Amyris, Inc. and Cosan S.A. to develop cane-based green chemicals. Beyond the gas tank, cane ethanol can replace petroleum as a raw material in a range of products – everything from plastics to cosmetics.

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To realize the great potential of sugarcane in renewable applications, look no further than today’s announcement of a joint venture between Amyris, Inc. and Cosan S.A. to develop cane-based green chemicals. Beyond the gas tank, cane ethanol can replace petroleum as a raw material in a range of products – everything from plastics to cosmetics.

Sugarcane is one of the most photosynthetic-efficient plants on earth. It captures an incredible amount of CO2 during the growth process, and as a result can help make the production of plastics and other materials carbon-neutral. In fact just yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized LS9 as a winner of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge for their technology that converts renewable raw materials like sugarcane into low-carbon fuels and chemicals.

Amyris, Cosan S.A. and LS9 are not alone in this trend. Last year Johnson & Johnson announced the use of sugarcane-ethanol based bioplastics in their line of sunscreen lotion, Sundown. Coca-Cola also launched the PlantBottle, made using sugarcane.

It’s important to understand that our addiction to fossil fuels is omnipresent. We’re surrounded by materials that rely heavily on petroleum for production. Businesses around the world are leading the effort to reduce the carbon footprint of these goods, and many see sugarcane ethanol as a key input in decreasing their impact.

Today’s news is yet another reminder of the promise and benefits held by a global biofuels market. We continue to call for the elimination of trade barriers, like the 54 cent per gallon tariff in the U.S. that slow progress toward cleaner and more renewable energy use.

copyright 2010 Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association