Environmental advocates are calling on Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to use their buying power to depend more on the Midwest and less on the Middle East.
More than 70 organizations and leaders endorsed the Secure, Sustainable Energy and Environmental Demand agenda April 19. The SEED initiative urges a shift away from petroleum dependency toward plastics and fuels made from renewable resources.
``It's time to come clean and admit that America has a problem - oil addiction,'' said Jennifer Krill, director of the Rainforest Action Network's Zero Emissions Campaign. ``The only solution is for business leaders to develop alternatives to petroleum-dependent products and make it possible for people to live petroleum free.''
Plastics and fuels made from renewable resources are mass-produced and becoming more cost-competitive with petroleum-based products as the price of oil increases, said Neil Seldman, president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Bio-plastics such as polylactic acid, which is produced using sugar or other crops, can be used to make plastic products, fibers and clothing. Bio-diesel and bio-ethanol, made from fat or vegetable oil and corn or other grains, can replace diesel fuel and gasoline.
``These aren't exotic or expensive technologies,'' said Bill Shireman, president and chief executive officer of the Future 500, a sustainable investment firm.
The Future 500 organized the initiative in hopes of finding common ground between corporations and environmental advocates, to develop technology for bio-based products and increase their availability while decreasing their cost.
``The shift from petroleum-based fuels, fibers, and plastics to renewable and plant-based products is fundamental to our survival,'' said Randy Hayes, sustainability director for Oakland, Calif., Mayor Jerry Brown. ``Together, these system shifts are the bright light on the horizon that we so desperately need to get through these dark times.''
This first initiative focuses on available technologies that already are competitive with petroleum products. It likely will expand into the renewable energy, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicle and sustainable agricultural arenas.
``The objective of SEED ... speaks to the real environmental revolution needed today, and that is a revolution in economics,'' said Eric Lombardi, executive director of EcoCycle Inc., the nation's largest nonprofit community recycler. ``We want to see the purchasing agents of the world lead the way and be the next planetary heroes.''