WATERLOO, Iowa -- The $1.2 billion Veridian Credit Union, formerly the John Deere Community Credit Union, has turned to corn, the material of fuel and feed, for the plastic it uses in its membership cards.
The new cards, which are made of something Veridian calls corn plastic, look and feel exactly like traditionally
manufactured plastic cards, the CU said.
"Veridian Credit Union is committed to supporting the communities we serve," said Jean Trainor, Veridian president and CEO. "We are very excited to incorporate processes that keep our communities ecologically healthy. In addition, this new plastic supports agriculture, an industry on
which our state and communities depend."
Veridian is already using beverage mugs made of the biodegradable corn plastic for promotions and had been working to find an alternative plastic for their membership cards. The cards as well as the mugs, come from NatureWorks, a leading manufacturer of the product.
NatureWorks turns corn into a resin known as polylactic acid (PLA). The pea-sized white pellets are then melted and formed into products like the mugs and cards Veridian is using. Cargill, the world's largest corn merchant, owns the lactic-acid plant.
According to industry supporters, PLA is quickly becoming the future of plastic. It comes from an abundant and annually renewable resource. In a controlled composting environment, PLA will decompose into harmless natural compounds like water and carbon dioxide in fewer than 90 days. The process of creating PLA requires 65 percent less energy than is required to produce other conventional plastics, according to an independent analysis commissioned by NatureWorks. That same study shows the resin generates 68 percent fewer greenhouse gases, and contains no toxins.