It sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel. Capturing carbon from the air and turning it back into plastic. But thankfully (given the latest flurry of government data on climate change) it’s already a reality. Coined AirCarbon, the biodegradable PHA-based plastic material is made from air and greenhouse gases and is being manufactured by Newlight Technologies, a California-based bio-tech company.

The new AirCarbon packaging is greener and less expensive to manufacture than oil-based plastic packaging. So luckily, before this too good to be true thermoplastic, carbon-negative technology got hushed up by any mightier than thou fossil fuel proponents, conscientious corporations like Sprint and Dell have jumped at the chance to integrate this ‘true cradle to cradle sustainability’ packaging into their respective product lines.

Last week, Sprint announced it will be using AirCarbon in its black and pink cell phone cases for the iPhone® 5 and iPhone® 5s (available later this month at And just today Dell said it will be incorporating AirCarbon-based packaging around the new Dell Latitude series notebooks this Fall.

Dell, which is piloting AirCarbon packaging in the United States, plans to extend it globally for use in both packaging and products.

“Dell is using greenhouse gases that would otherwise become part of the air we breathe to replace materials traditionally made by oil,” said Mark Herrema, CEO, Newlight Technologies. “We commend Dell for being the first in the IT industry to introduce packaging that reverses the impact of climate change. Introducing greener packaging at a lower cost per unit than traditional oil-based plastics is good for the environment and Dell’s bottom line.”

air-infographicWhile almost all plastics today are developed from fossil fuels, Newlight’s Technologies makes its plastic from a process that sequesters more carbon than it produces, pulling carbon from the air and generating a net positive impact on the environment.

On a large-scale, continuous basis, Newlight converts air and greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide (which can be derived from a range of sources, including wastewater treatment systems, digesters, landfills and energy facilities), into biodegradable PHA-based plastics that can out-compete oil-based plastics on price and performance.

Along with these two telecommunication and IT mega corps., Newlight currently sells its sustainable plastics to customers with applications ranging from furniture parts to storage containers to packaging films, and is currently expanding commercial production capacity towards the company’s objective of commodity-scale operations.

AirCarbon has been independently verified by Trucost in cooperation with NSF Sustainability as a carbon-negative material on a cradle-to-grave basis.


About Author

Sara’s highly specialized writing skill set, combined with an editorial, marketing, digital media sales and business development experience, serves to help guide the creation, maintenance and revitalization of the CleanTechies brand. She is a partner at, a digital media collective. Previous to this, Sara served as a researcher on the Energy [R]evolution database for Greenpeace International and as the Features Editor at


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  3. Fossil fuel proponents are the death stars in our culture. We are late finding an alternative to petrochemical based plastics but, by damn, we are out of excuses and time.