Celebrating Eco-Progress: AT&T

While AT&T continues to piss people off with their monopolistic tendencies and their worst-in-the-industry customer service, this Celebrating Eco-Progress installment takes a look at efforts they’re making to be more eco-friendly.

Via GreenBix.com:

Just in the last few years, we’ve seen a surge in companies experimenting with plastics derived from sugarcane…

Now we can add AT&T to the list. The telecommunications giant said yesterday it will begin using sugarcane-based plastic in packaging for its branded wireless accessories, such as cell phone cases and power cords that hit the shelves beginning Oct. 2. As much as 30 percent of the packaging will come from ethanol made from sugarcane.

Now, I do have a few concerns about this news.

First, 30% is a relatively small number, and this GreenBiz post is rather confusing about just what will be made of sugarcane and what will not. Specifically, the term packaging is used twice, but there’s a reference to cell phone cases and power cords. Those are VERY different things.

Second, while the prospect of replacing petroleum-derived plastics with plastics made from corn or sugarcane initially sounds like a great idea, as I wrote back in July concerning biofuels, there’s the no-small-matter of carbon output from harvesting, refinement, production, and transportation; conversion of prime agricultural land from food production to plastics on a planet with a booming, hungry population; and potentially disastrous farming practices.

Concerning the latter, this tidbit jumped out at me:

Sensing a market opportunity, Dow Chemical has launched a joint venture in Brazil to make bioplastic using ethanol made from sugarcane, we reported last month. The company claims it can do this at a competitive price-point.

Given that Dow is a pesticide giant, the chances that the sugarcane they use will be organic are clearly in snowball-in-hell territory.

So, you might ask, why would I even bother including this in the Celebrating Eco-Progress series?

Well, if there is even a small chance that AT&T truly has altruistic motivations toward becoming more eco-friendly, I still believe they need to hear from consumers that we’d very much like to see them continue, and by pointing out the flaws in the choices they are making, we at least let them know that they need to do better at the same time.

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