December 25, 2005 | General


BioCycle December 2005, Vol. 46, No. 12, p. 4

THE BIG investment banking firm – Goldman Sachs Group with 24,000 employees – announced last week that it would “encourage clients in environmentally sensitive areas to use appropriate safeguards.” The company announced at the same time that it would invest $1 billion in projects that generate energy from sources other than oil and gas. And it strongly endorsed stringent federal regulation. Goldman Sachs added that it would establish a Center for Environmental Markets to study how the free-market system can solve environmental problems.
An accompanying article in The New York Times (11/22/05) – by Claudia H. Deutsch – on innovative green companies opens with a reference to growing sales of compostable plastic made from corn sugars by Cargill, Inc. This year, Wal-Mart, Wild Oats Markets and other retailers, as well as food suppliers, all “embraced” corn-based (compostable) packaging for fresh produce. Sales at NatureWorks – the Cargill subsidiary that makes the plastic – grew 200 percent in the first half of this year over the period last year. “We’re competitive with petrochemicals,” adds Kathleen Bader, chairwoman of NatureWorks.
As reported in this issue of BioCycle (see section beginning on p. 28 about biofuels as petroleum alternatives), new companies are turning the organics waste stream into green products that cover the market from biodiesel to compost blends. And the pace of change is speeding up. “The environmental industry is about to take off as more investors realize they can reap returns from cleaner technologies,” says a director at Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental organizations. The California Public Employees Retirement System is investing $200 million in what it calls the “burgeoning environmental technology sector.” The Investor Network on Climate Risk will be investing $1 billion in companies with green products. From new power generators to improved compost-based feedstocks, investors are “looking at their entire portfolio to see where they can make substitutions.” These firms are looking for ways to keep plastics out of landfills, use living plants to absorb carbon dioxide emissions, clean up contaminated water, use more recycled materials in new construction, and generate electricity from organic wastes.

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