The Carbohydrate Economy: Return to BioBased Products


Plastic made from corn? How about carpet, clothes, dishes, and paint? It may sound funny now, but 100 years ago plant matter was the basis of almost all products. Petroleum increasingly replaced plants as society’s fundamental medium and by the 1980s almost eliminated biological materials as a source of products and fuels. Now, due to a confluence of factors – high petroleum prices, low crop prices, increasing environmental costs associated with using petroleum, better technology for making plant-based products, and government support – the tide may be turning again. This transition is not small potatoes. David Morris, vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), coined the term “carbohydrate economy” 15 years ago. Shifting society’s engine toward renewable, environmentally benign materials, where farmer-owned manufacturing enterprises process the crops they grow has enormously positive ramifications. By substituting biochemicals – derived from vegetable oils, fiber and grain crops, citrus fruits, nuts and trees – to make industrial solvents, equipment lubricants, paints, and plastics, the environmental costs associated with the production, use and disposal of these products are greatly reduced. Pollution is no longer generated from extracting and processing crude oil into chemicals. End-of-life disposal is also not an issue – the […]

Read More