Polylactic Acid (PLA)
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What exactly is it?

Eco-Products offers cups, lids, cutlery, straws and containers made from a biopolymer called PLA (polylactic acid). PLA is made from starchy plants like corn, grown right here in the U.S. Starch from corn kernels is processed into a biopolymer that looks, acts, and performs like petroleum-based plastics.

Why we use it?

PLA performs much like traditional plastics, but with the crucial benefit of being 100% compostable in commercial compost facilities. We like PLA because it is versatile, compostable, and best of all, not petroleum derived. We even use it in place of traditional plastic linings in our GreenStripe® and World Art™ hot cups so they are entirely made from renewable materials, unlike most regular hot cups. Many of our food containers and even our compostable cutlery is made from PLA. In cutlery, the formulation of PLA is rigid and durable — perfect for high-strength needs and of course, commercial composting!

What's cool about it?

Most plastics are derived from petroleum, or oil. Oil is our most valuable resource in many ways. It's also a resource that comes with a lot of negative environmental and social impacts. Our PLA products give you the option of products made from renewable resources, like corn instead of oil. Corn can be grown again and again, unlike oil which is nonrenewable. PLA plastics have the added benefit of being compostable when you are finished using them. Composting is an opportunity to divert waste that would otherwise be landfilled — and by composting, you create valuable humus which improves soil so that plants can grow again. How about that?

What is not so cool about it?

PLA in the U.S. comes largely from corn. The reason for this is simple: we grow the most corn of any nation on the planet! Also, because of the large-scale agricultural system that we have today, most (88%) of U.S. corn is genetically modified (GM). We recognize the value of sustainable, organic agriculture and follow the debate and the scientific research surrounding GM crops. One day, we hope to bring you exclusively non-GM PLA, but unfortunately the infrastructure is not there yet for us — or our industry. If GM is a concern for you, check out our BlueStripe™ line of products made with post-consumer recycled content. This is a great environmental choice without the GM component.