BIOPLASTIC PLA Clear Cups and Containers

Go Green World Bioplastic Cups & Lids; Should I through in the rubbish bin or recycle?
Unfortunately, there is not a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. There is a lot of confusion in this area from the industry and the consumer alike. It is not clear yet if disposable paper cups lined with plastics or bioplastics can be recycled in Australia. They are sometimes accepted across New Zealand and Australia in the co-mingled recycling collections. 
The best thing to do is; Call your local Council to find out if they will accept paper cups in the landfill rubbish bin or recycle as all the councils have a different approach to handle the waste.      

Our Bio PLA Cups and bioplastic lids can be composted in commercial compost facilities where they will completely biodegrade within 120 days. Many customers have successfully composted BioCups in their home compost and worm farms. 

Across Australia and New Zealand, there is limited access to compost facilities, so the preferred end-of-life option, for now, is placing the cups in the paper and cardboard recycling in the absence of wide-scale commercial composting.

PLA (polylactic acid) is typically made from the sugars in corn starch, cassava or sugarcane. It is biodegradable, carbon-neutral and edible. To transform corn into plastic, corn kernels are immersed in sulfur dioxide and hot water, where its components break down into starch, protein, and fibre. The kernels are then ground and the corn oil is separated from the starch. The starch is comprised of long chains of carbon molecules, similar to the carbon chains in plastic from fossil fuels. Some citric acids are mixed in to form a long-chain polymer (a large molecule consisting of repeating smaller units) that is the building block for plastic. PLA can look and behave like polyethene (used in plastic films, packing and bottles), polystyrene (Styrofoam and plastic cutlery) or polypropylene (packaging, auto parts, textiles). Minnesota-based NatureWorks is one of the largest companies producing PLA under the brand name Ingeo. 
Since there is often confusion when talking about bioplastics, some clarifications;

Degradable – All plastic is degradable, even traditional plastic, but just because it can be broken down into tiny fragments or powder does not mean the materials will ever return to nature. Some additives to traditional plastics make them degrade more quickly. Photodegradable plastic breaks down more readily in sunlight; oxo-degradable plastic disintegrates more quickly when exposed to heat and light.

Biodegradable – Biodegradable plastic can be broken down completely into water, carbon dioxide and compost by microorganisms under the right conditions. “Biodegradable” implies that the decomposition happens in weeks to months. Bioplastics that don’t biodegrade that quickly are called “durable,” and some bioplastics made from biomass that cannot easily be broken down by microorganisms are considered non-biodegradable.

Compostable – Compostable plastic will biodegrade in a compost site. Microorganisms break it down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at the same rate as other organic materials in the compost pile, leaving no toxic residue. 

When paper products (including Bio PLA Cups) are disposed of to landfill rather than composted, they can take as long as 40 years to biodegrade and when they do they release methane gas. Methane is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming with a lifespan 21 times longer than carbon dioxide. On average, every year each Australian throws out 330kg of paper. Waste recycling or reuse activity is important in reducing the impact of human waste on the environment. The more items that are reused and recycled, the less space is needed for landfill and the fewer emissions generated.

Our Bio PLA Cups are designed to be composted as part of the circular economy. Well managed home composts will do the trick, but the best conditions are in a commercial compost if available.