Whither Negrense green economy-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
CAN the sugarcane monoculture serve as an important component of a Negrense green economy?
Yes, according to Rafael “Lito” Coscolluela, the Negros Occidental consultant on investments and promotions, trade and export development and inter-agency coordination.
I fully appreciate Lito’s lobbying efforts for the passage of a Provincial Investments and Incentives Code that will embody a green economy principle.
On my part, I have been part of a global process on the mountain green economy as a run-up to the Rio +20 conference. Included in these efforts is the non-timber forest product promotion as an alternative to timber poaching of our secondary growth forests.
An important component of the green economy is the strengthening of organic agriculture in the province. The former governor and the incumbent are staunch advocates of organics. Save the environment, protect our health.
Lito emphasized the need to strengthen the province’s fishery, agriculture and tourism industries. On top of that, I can live with sugarcane-based fuel and power production.
On the proposed code, it will seek to attract green investors for sugarcane-based fuel and power production and other related industries that rely on local feedstock or raw materials.
But forward linkages for sugarcane need not limit themselves to sugar, animal fodder, and agrofuels. The province could attract investors making bioplastics. One such company is Dow Chemicals, the multinational company often vilified as a villain by environmentalists and political activists.
In fact, during last year’s London Olympics, political activists decried the relationship between Dow (one of the corporate sponsors), Bhopal, and Olympic sustainability. Dow absorbed Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Dow Chemicals was also notorious for manufacturing Agent Orange as an herbicide defoliant to reduce foliage that the Vietnamese communist guerillas used as protected cover. Affected were Vietnamese civilians and even American soldiers who contracted cancer.
But now Dow is reinventing itself. Nowadays, the company is bent on making plastic from sugar can be just as cheap as making it from petroleum. The company plans to build a plant in Brazil that it says will be the world’s largest facility for making polymers from plants.
It’s now in the process of finishing engineering plans for facilities that will convert ethanol into hundreds of thousands of metric tons of polyethylene, the world’s most widely used plastic.
In its website, Dow says in the agriculture market segment, plastics are leading the way to a more profitable and environmentally friendly future.
Advances in polyethylene technology for agricultural films have reduced the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
Agricultural films improve crop quality and increase the crop yield. The advantages of polyethylene films over competing materials (such as wood chips, straw, mulch, cloth, burlap, and fiberglass) include lower costs, increased profitability, and environmental stability.
Can the provincial code attract Dow or other manufacturers producing bioplastics?
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 13, 2013.