AT&T to use sugarcane, cut petroleum, in plastic packaging

AT&T will start packaging its cell phone accessories in bio-plastic instead of petroleum-based plastic next month, the telecom company announced this week.

AT&T says the change is its latest effort to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. While the new plastic packaging will contain petroleum, up to 30 percent will be manufactured from plant materials, the company said in a statement.

While most plastics are manufactured from petroleum products like ethane and propane, technological advances have made plant-based plastics more widely available. Like biofuels, bioplastics are manufactured from agricultural crops, like corn and sugarcane.

AT&T said it will start using sugar cane ethanol to produce some of its plastic packaging beginning Oct. 2.

Jeff Bradley, AT&T’s senior vice president for devices, said in a statement the company will be the first in its industry to use plant-based plastic packaging for consumer products.

“We are actively working with our accessory suppliers to incorporate both less packaging and more sustainable plastic and paper,” Bradley said.

The company cut 500 tons of paper and plastic by shrinking its packaging in 2010 and 2011, according to the written statement, and has used soy and vegetable-based ink for some of its accessories cases.