Oil won’t last forever – for that we are lucky. Petroleum dependence is a risky, unreliable crutch that drives global insecurity, depletion, and pollution. If America’s future depended on it, our nation would have a life expectancy of 20, 30, or 40 years.
Fortunately, our success doesn’t come from fossil fuels. It comes from innovation, and there is plenty of that left. The technologies to free us from petroleum are at hand. Many are affordable today.
It is time we shifted our dollars away from the technologies of the past, and toward technologies with a future. By using our buying power, global companies can drive demand for more secure, sustainable technologies beyond their tipping point, the threshold where they take hold in the marketplace – where price, performance, and penetration secure their growth.
But a few misguided advocates of petroleum are seeking to use a new strategy to perpetuate our oil dependence: convince environmentalists that shifting from petroleum based resources will hurt one of their favorite causes – recycling.
Moving beyond petroleum is good for the nation and the world. The technology and ingenuity is there. All it takes is the commitment.
Responsible members of the PET and plastics industry would never try to use environmentalists as a shield, simply to block the entry of a more sustainable alternative. It is time for industry leaders to open the doors to environmental innovations like PLA, and to focus on finding solutions, not exaggerating the problems.
Innovation will be good for the plastics industry too, and for companies currently making PET. Oil supplies are running short. If plastics are still a part of the future, the only option is to grow them from renewable sources. Bio-fuels from the Midwest can last longer than oil wells in the Middle East, especially as we shift toward more sustainable forms of agriculture.
When my company first invented the aluminum can back in 1960, even the aluminum companies opposed us. They feared scrap aluminum would undermine their subsidized sources of bauxite ore. Now, they are grateful they made the transition to a recyclable source of supply. The plastics industry will be too.
Increasing the use of more sustainable packages like PLA will require boldness, both by environmentalists and business. But the effort will be worthwhile. Instead of forcing a square PET into a round bin, we can begin to use better materials, founded on renewable resources, and designed from the start with the environment, and our future, in mind.
Bill Coors is the retired former Chairman of Adolph Coors Company, in Golden, Colorado. He is a founding member of The Future 500, and an honorary chairman of SEED, an initiative to increase corporate procurement of sustainable, post-petroleum technologies.
via Tim Haab