12 January 2000
Cargill to make plastic from plants

GIANT US grain processor Cargill is involved in a venture to make plastic from plants.

It is joining forces with Dow Chemical, one of Americas largest chemical companies. They are investing $300 million (183m) in the venture.

The aim is to produce 140,000t a year of the plastic polylactide (PLA). It will be produced from crops such as maize and wheat.

The chemical and agricultural industries have been working for many years to make cost-effective plastics from plants.

The new company, called Cargill Dow Polymers, will use a process that converts sugars or starches from the crops into lactic acid.

This is converted into lactide and then into the plastic molecules.