Shipping included on all in-stock Food Packaging

A guide to understanding Bioplastics

Bioplastic. Biodegradable. Drop-in. Oxo-Degradable. Bio-based. Compostable. Plant-based.

Are you exhausted yet or at least thoroughly confused? We get it. These terms get thrown around interchangeably quite a bit, but they don’t mean the same things. Let’s call this #EpicConfusionForTheCustomer.

First things first. We use the term “bio-based” material when we’re referring to more than just bioplastics and need to be appropriately science-y. The bottom line is that the source of our bio-based material is plants, so to keep things simple, you’ll hear us refer to a percentage of “plant-based” content in our materials.

Secondly, let’s talk specifically about what a bioplastic actually is. Or was.

Typically, when you see something labelled as a “bioplastic”, it means that plastic material contains a certain amount of plant-based content from natural, renewable sources, most commonly sugarcane or corn using today’s available technology. For a while, the amount of bio-based content required to call something a “bioplastic” was moving toward a standard, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

What’s happening instead is the term “bioplastics” is getting used to loosely describe any plastic material that includes some renewable content and is labelled as an “Other #7” since the petroleum-based plastic classification system only specifies a few of the thousands of plastics out there - PET #1, HDPE #2, PVC #3, LDPE #4, PP #5 and PS #6 (the really nasty styro stuff!).

We do our best to speak everyday English to describe the many, and often intentionally convoluted, ways that petro plastics and bioplastics are described. And usually they make bioplastics out to be the bad guy, we might add! 😈 So if the term “bioplastic” has lost its path, then we can infuse the term with some more specific meaning to help you make decisions, right?

Here goes…

We’ll be using the term “bioplastic” to mean a material with at least some renewable plant-based content that can be recycled and mixed together with traditional petroleum plastics classified from #1 to #6. Our bioplastics are chemically equivalent to their petroleum counterparts in processability and performance. We’ve been making home organization products out of a 90% plant-based bioplastic for several years now that can be recycled together with any HDPE #2 plastic, like milk jugs.

We’ve just recently expanded our material portfolio to include a groundbreaking new bioplastic for packaging applications called “Bio-PET”. It’s made from up to 30% plant-based content and can be recycled through most curbside recycling programs just like traditional PET #1. It can also include up to 33% recycled material from any source and still contain at least 20% plant-based content.

So why does this matter? And why would we introduce a material with lower plant-based content when our goal is to use the maximum possible renewable materials? Because our overall objective is to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in everyday products, and it’s not always a straight path to get there.

We’ve had repeated requests over the years to offer packaging that can be readily recycled in curbside programs, but reduces the use of fossil fuels. With today’s recycling infrastructure, that usually means the only options are either PET #1 or HDPE #2. And since our goal is to make it easier for business owners and consumers to make the switch to plant-based, we want to be part of helping everyone take a positive step in that direction.

Our Bio-PET packaging is not yet available for purchase online, so get in touch so we can design a Bio-PET packaging program that works for you.

For all you thermoformers and extruders out there, switching to Bio-PET does not require any specialized production facilities or methods. This is pure drop-in replacement for PET, rPET and PCR and can be co-mingled with any regrind you’ve got on your floor.  A guide to our to learn more about our various Bio-PET and PLA formulations.

Looking to learn more about our bioplastic food pacakging or any biodegradable options? We can help.