Apr 23, 2010

The 2 Big Questions

As consumers, we drive the products available. If no one bought something, it would disappear quickly. On the flip side, whatever you buy a lot of will stick around for a while. There are 2 questions we need to ask about any product we consume:

1. What is it made from?

2. How is it made?

In our business, what are the biofuels made from? There are many choices: corn, soy, used cooking oil, algae, cellulose, expired soda pop, food scraps, palm oil, sugar cane, jaltropa seeds, camelina, hemp, canola, fish oil, animal fat, and many more. SeQuential has always had this question in mind. We source the best options from all of these: our biodiesel - made from used cooking oil - has the lowest lifecycle carbon footprint of any alternative fuel, including electric cars plugged into today's grid. Our ethanol is still evolving, but much of it now comes from food processing sugar waste. Produced this way, it shatters the conventional wisdom about ethanol being an evil fuel that will starve the world and destroy the environment.

How is it made?

If we made these cool biofuels using slave labor, coal-fired electricity, barrels of petroleum, and produced tons of waste by-products, the game is up. Fortunately, this isn't the case! Our plant in Salem uses a proprietary washing system that produces zero waste water and a high-grade fertilizer. Heavy fats and oils that can't be processed are burned for heat and power. We have a distilation column to capture and re-use our methanol. All employees are paid excellent wages and have full benefits.

Here's the bottom line: consumption is complex. Boiling this complexity down to simple triggers like "biofuel" or "organic" is not good enough. Shallow doesn't cut it, you have to go deeper.

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