When you know that you can feel good about where PlantBottle® packaging is from, you can be even more excited about all the places it’s going.
Just because a material is made from plants doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better for the environment or society. Harvesting a plant requires the use of water, energy, fertilizers, pesticides and land. Agriculture also can have a significant impact on the ecology of a region and, if not managed responsibly, the people who live there. That’s why we put so much effort into assessing the environmental and social performance of our packaging before we bring it to the market.
Working with leading academic, government and NGO partners, we scoured the world to find a source for a more environmentally responsible bottle that wouldn’t harm the ecology or people of the region where it is produced, or compete with food. The only source currently meeting these criteria and approved for use in our PlantBottle™ packaging is sugarcane based ethanol from Brazil.
Brazilian sugarcane is primarily rain-fed and industrially grown on abundant, arable land using organic fertilizers. The plantations from which we source are far away from the Amazon rain forests, and their impact on biodiversity is limited thanks to good farming practices and sound public policy.
We also are working to advance the development of cellulosic solutions that capture sugar from plant wastes and residuals. We see this as the next phase of our PlantBottle™ packaging innovation.
Why sugarcane ethanol from Brazil?
Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is considered to be an “Advanced Renewable Fuel” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is the only first generation biofuel widely recognized by thought leaders globally for its unique environmental and social performance:
Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Sugarcane is a renewable, fast-growing plant with a high capacity to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
- Most sugarcane expansion in Brazil is on degraded pastures that actually generate a carbon credit as the sugarcane captures significant amounts of carbon.
- Brazil’s sugar and ethanol plants generate their own electricity by burning sugarcane byproducts and generating surplus electricity.
- For every unit of fossil energy consumed in the ethanol production cycle, more than eight units of renewable energy are typically produced.
Lower Impact on Biodiversity
- Over 99% of Brazilian sugarcane plantations are located over 2,000km from the Amazon.
- The Brazilian government has established an agro-ecological zoning program limiting the expansion of sugarcane to 7.5% of the Brazilian territory and prohibiting planting sugarcane in over 90% of the country, including the Amazon and other important ecosystems.
- Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is more productive than any alternative in terms of biofuel per hectare of land required.
Effective Cultivation Practices
- Brazilian sugarcane fields require practically no irrigation because rainfall is abundant and reliable.
- Brazilian sugarcane plantations are less dependent on industrial fertilizers, due to the innovative use of organic fertilizers from recycled production residuals.
- Brazilian sugarcane fields have relatively low levels of soil loss thanks to the semi-perennial nature of the sugarcane that is typically replanted every 5-7 years.
- Nearly half of all sugarcane in Brazil is harvested mechanically.
Avoided Food Competition
- While sugarcane production has increased steadily in Brazil, there has been no drop in food production. In addition to sugar, Brazil is a leading exporter of beef, coffee, orange juice, poultry and soybeans.
- Most sugarcane expansion is on degraded pastures.
- Crop rotation systems to promote soil recovery are typically used in Brazil, where 15-20% of the sugarcane crop is removed annually and replaced with other crops like beans, soybean and peanuts, supporting the supplies of these foods in the market.
For more information about these programs, please visit our Sustainable Agriculture page.