Some soft drink bottles are now being made in part from plants
Some soft drink bottles are now being made in part from plants

Plastic bottles could be the future of agriculture

AN ATTEMPT to use sugarcane for more than just sugar could be the future of agriculture.

Researcher Ian O'Hara spoke at an Australian Technology Network of Universities forum in Brisbane yesterday and said nearly 60% of sugarcane was wasted if it was used only to produce sugar.

But he said growing consumer demand for more sustainable products was a market opportunity for growers.

The Queensland University of Technology associate professor said Coca-Cola was developing plastic bottles made entirely from bioplastic. He said more than half of Coke's products were sold in plastic bottles.

"Those bottles have traditionally all been made from fossil-based petrochemical resources. But consumers are becoming much more discerning and they're wanting their packages, they're wanting their products to be as sustainable as possible," he said.

"So what Coca-Cola has done is develop a plant bottle technology. About 30% of the chemicals used to make that bottle come now from bio-based resources.

"Coca-Cola is currently developing the technology to manufacture a whole PET bottle from plant-based resources."

The bottles made with 30% bioplastics are in the US market.

Professor O'Hara said current waste from cane products could also be used to create aviation and military fuel.

He said the work being done to diversify the cane industry was an example of how Australian agriculture could prosper in the future.

"Due to things mostly beyond our control in agriculture ... the profitability of our agricultural sector is actually very poor," he said.

"I want to put the proposition to you that we need to move on from those primary agricultural commodities and start thinking about what other products we can make from agriculture."