• In 2014, a German entrepreneur approaches Cargill with an idea for an innovative new plastic made from sunflower seeds.
  • As one of the world’s largest processors of sunflower seeds, Cargill is able to use by-products from its sunflower oil business to help develop the product.
  • The new S²PC® plastic contains less petroleum than other plastics, reducing the industry’s dependence on this type of fuel.
  • From tool supplies (left) to flowerpots (right), the high-quality plastic can be used to make a variety of sustainable, first-rate products.

Sunflower-based plastics make a positive impact

Working to launch an innovative new product, a German manufacturer turns to Cargill as its trusted partner.

Cargill’s longstanding presence in Germany has allowed it to form strong relationships with customers across various supply chains. In 2014, entrepreneur Ulrich Wendeln approached the company with an idea for a brand-new plastic that promised to have a positive environmental impact. A long-time customer of Cargill’s rapeseed meal business, Wendeln had experience overseeing the production of plastic made from sunflower hulls at his company, Sunflower Plastic Compound (SPC).

Alongside his business partner, Ulrich Meyer, Wendeln met with Hermann Steep, the lead in Cargill’s German grain and oilseed supply chain, looking for support to develop and market their innovative plastic. Because of Cargill’s position as a trusted partner and one of the world’s largest processors of sunflower seeds, a key ingredient in the plastic, it was the clear choice to help the entrepreneurs move their idea forward.

The invention, named S²PC® (Sustainable Sunflower Plastic Compound) plastic, combines a sunflower processing by-product with traditional polymers. The result is a high-quality plastic with wide-ranging applications, from food and beverage packaging to furniture. The plastic significantly lessens the environmental impact generated by these goods. Since S²PC plastic has less petroleum than most plastics, it reduces the industry’s dependence on this fuel by 30% to 70%, depending on the application.

Given the product’s success to date and its future promise, Cargill and SPC, renamed Golden Compound GmbH, recently made the decision to collaboratively build a new pilot plant in Ladbergen, Germany.

If the product proves successful in the market, the partners have plans to further expand the innovation globally. Steep is excited about the product’s potential, and proud of the trust Cargill’s customers place in the company. Oriol Serrahima, managing director of the joint venture, shares Steep’s sentiments, saying, “This project combines the two very different cultures of Cargill as a large, global player and Mr. Wendeln’s company as a medium-sized and very entrepreneurial company. It is a living example [of] Cargill being partner of choice.”