Compostable food containers made with corn plastics (PLA)

Biodegrable food containers made from corn in my compost bin

Biodegradable food containers made from corn in my compost bin

So, a couple of months ago, I meandered down the little path through the ivy in my back yard to my compost pile nestled in the woods to find – surprise! – a couple of plastic to-go bowls and lids in the compost bin. Huh? My neighbors and I share the compost pile and we both make our fair share of contributions, so I knew they couldn’t be confused as to what biodegrades and what doesn’t… Regardless, I pulled out the bowl and its lid and headed back up to the house to throw it in the REAL garbage can.

A little while later, my neighbor came outside and I asked her opinion on  what stranger would have had the audacity to wander into the back yard  and dump their trash in our compost pile! She said that she and her husband had actually thrown the bowls in there after the restaurant they went to told them they were compostable. Ah, my ignorance. I told her I’d thrown it away by accident, but then retrieved it and put it back in the bin (as you can see to the right).

Now, we’re both curious as to how long it will take for it to actually decompose. I looked up compostable containers and here is what I found:

  • Corn plastics are made from (beginning to end) carbon dioxide and water > cornstarch > dextrose (which is then fermented) > lactic acid > polylactide (PLA).
  • Unlike regular plastics, which are made from oil, corn plastics are 100% biodegradable and compostable. And since corn is renewable, it is a more sustainable source than regular petroleum-based plastic.
  • It can take up to 45 days or so for items to biodegrade in a commercial composting facility and a little longer in a home bin. In a landfill, PLA items will react as if they were food, although landfills aren’t designed for biodegrading.
  • PLA products are also becoming more competitively priced with traditional plastics (PET) than they have been in the past, making it a more viable option for businesses looking for green, earth-friendly products.

Many sources contain information on PLA and compostable containers, I just happened to get this info courtesy of Biodegradable Store (where, you guessed it, you can also buy PLA products).

2 Responses to “Compostable food containers made with corn plastics (PLA)”
  1. Really Good Articles/posts that you have on this site. Thanks

  2. Cookie says:

    Life goes green with every choice we make. I own a chain of specialty cafes in California. A year ago, i made a choice green choice of launching corn PLA containers at my cafes. They are beautiful, and their look, tone and feel are more like plastics. Above all, my customers love them. We have been purchasing them from and their pricing is unbeatable.

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