What bites corn plastic?

Here is one big reason why food manufacturers and consumer product goods retailers are still hesitant about using corn-based plastics.

According to The Oregonian newspaper, it is difficult for recyclers to recycle corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) plastics because it melts at lower temperatures compared to traditional resins such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This means PLA plastic has to be separated from PET plastic (either by consumers or recyclers), which is a big headache.

It is said that the estimated amount of PLA plastic needed to contaminate a PET load are as high as 4 percent and as low as one bottle in 1,000. It is much easier to dispose PLA plastic-based utensils, cups, and dishes especially in cafeteria, convention centers and sports venues because they’ll be disposed with other compostable materials.

PLA plastics are said to be both recyclable and compostable according to manufacturers. The newly formed Bioplastics Recycling Consortium is said to be working on the problem.
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2 Responses to What bites corn plastic?

  1. Pradeep 30 October, 2008 at 12:04 am #

    It seems that one can separate PLA from PET based on specific gravity or optical separations. Convincing recyclers to put additional infrastructure to do this will be the key.
    For now, it looks as if composting is a good way to dispose PLA.

  2. Max 16 February, 2009 at 3:23 pm #

    I commend innovation and the introduction of plastics that will help with the plastic problem. Plastic bottles are a growing problem in our landfills and oceans. We felt that something needed to be done……and now.

    We felt that plastics made from crops that could be producing food, wasn’t the answer. In fact we were wondering what would become of all the PLA plastics produced. PLA plastics won’t biodegrade in a landfill, and they are not accepted by recyclers as PLA ruins the recycle stream of PET plastics. They must be composted in a commercial or municipal composting site….anyone know where they are?
    Additionally, many reports indicate that in addition to causing our food process to rise, the equipment and chemicals used to produce food based bio-fuel may be increasing pollution.

    We knew that there wasn’t going to be one “fix it all” answer and began to wonder if anything was ever going to be done. The problem was growing every day, more bottles were being manufactured and more bottles were accumulating in places where we didn’t need them.

    We were wondering if “Earth Friendly Bottles” would ever be available?

    That’s why we decided to do our part and started ENSO Bottles. We are partnering with other companies to offer a PET plastic bottle that will biodegrade, compost or recycle.

    Our bottles can be produced in a clear or colored version, however, clear version isn’t quite as clear as current PET plastic bottles but then again that’s one way to identify our earth friendly bottle.

    ENSO is trying to achieve sustainability with our plastic bottles. Our goal is to make bottles that won’t have the adverse impact on our environment and are made from non food bio-fuels.

    We haven’t started making them from bio-fuel but that’s high on our agenda and hopefully will be something we can offer in the future.

    But for now, we offer a plastic bottle that is earth friendly…it’s just one step but if we all take just one step toward improving our planet….we will make a difference.

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