• Business Business

Shake Shack is using an incredible new technology to make cups, straws, and other foodware: 'Nature's favorite food source'

"Nature's favorite food source is greenhouse gas."

Biodegradable plastic

Photo Credit: @newlight_technologies / Instagram

Two competing companies are producing foodware and other goods using recaptured air-polluting gases — and their futuristic products are finally starting to hit the market.

Newlight Technologies Inc. and Origin Materials Inc. each focus on creating consumer goods made from polluting gases created by dirty energy.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, Newlight has developed a process that uses microbes to absorb carbon dioxide and methane gases to create a biodegradable plastic replacement called polyhydroxybutyrate. The company has created more than 50 million straws, cutlery units, and bowls from this material, and its products have been used by companies like Shake Shack, Hyatt Hotels, and the Walt Disney Company. 

Newlight currently captures these gases from landfills, dairy farms, and ethanol plants, but is hoping to expand into coal mines as it opens a new factory in 2025.

Meanwhile, Origin extracts cellulose from "woody biomass" (sustainably harvested wood, agricultural waste, or other wood-based material) to create a plastic material that is used in food packaging for companies like Nestlé, Pepsi, and Danone. The Wall Street Journal reported that Origin also has a deal with Ford to make vehicle parts and an agreement to make apparel and bedding for Primaloft. 

These products are important because they help offset harmful carbon pollution — which leads to the dangerous overheating of our planet — by converting these gases into useful products that are either biodegradable or recyclable. 

Both Origin and Newlight expect to expand dramatically over the next few years, making more deals with companies like Nike and the Sumitomo Chemical Company to fashion more products that will convert air-polluting gases into something good, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Nature's favorite food source is greenhouse gas," Mark Herrema, chief executive of Newlight, told the Wall Street Journal. "Do what nature does, turn it into useful goods."

Want more? Follow The Cool Down on Instagram and join our Weekly Newsletter for cool stories and easy tips that save you money, time, and our planet.

Cool Divider