Everyone knows you can eat corn — but can you eat using plates, cups, and forks made from corn? Absolutely, and doing so can help reduce both waste and oil consumption, say advocates of biodegradable corn products. Although it’s not quite true that “anything that can be made from a barrel of crude oil can be made from a kernel of corn,” as Randy Cruise, a Nebraska farmer put it, it’s not far off: Corn can be used to make environmentally friendly plastics and fibers, and has already found its way into products from clothing to food packaging. It takes approximately a month for plastic bags made from corn to degrade in a compost heap, compared to the centuries it can take for an oil-based bag to decompose. The technology shows enough promise that Sony, Cargill Dow, and DuPont have all gotten in on the game. Environmentalists are reserving judgment until the process has received more scrutiny, but they acknowledge that its potential is tremendous.
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