The National Corn Growers Association's Ethanol Committee and Research and Business Development Action Team met in Columbus, Ohio, where the highlight of the trip was visiting a plastics manufacturer that is using polylactic acid made from corn as a major part of its operations.

In conjunction with the teams' spring meetings, members toured the facilities of Plastic Suppliers, a 57-year old company that once relied heavily on petroleum-based plastics but now focuses on PLA-based plastics.

The company produces PLA films for use in envelope windows, shrink wrap labels, flower bouquets wraps, and dozens of other applications. The company also produces thick-gauge PLA business cards.

"It's great to see a company realize the benefits of PLA and the opportunities it presents. It was obvious to us that companies that have depended on petrochemicals for decades are now understanding that the future of the plastics industry will be built on renewables," said Wendell Shauman, vice chairman of the Research and Business Development Action Team. "It was neat to see the creativity that the company put into finding uses for PLA. It is exciting to see a company produce a biodegradable and environmentally friendly product made from corn."

The teams also conducted normal business while in Ohio, discussing each team's objectives and priorities for the upcoming year. Ethanol Committee Chairman Bruce Noel said the meetings provided growers the occasion to discuss future research partnerships.

"The meetings gave the two teams more time to ponder our Future Structure of Agriculture Task Force ideas and to better understand potential business opportunities for farmers in present and future research," said Noel. "The synergies from ethanol plants operating at scale and partnerships in coproducts development present unique profit center scenarios for our member states and growers."