Our NatureWorks™ BIOpack bottles are made from 100% annually renewable plant resources NOT oil and offer a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional petroleum based plastics.

At the NatureWorks factory in New England, USA a material called PLA is created from the plant material.  The PLA pellets are shipped to Australia and then custom manufactured for us into bottles in a carbon-neutral facility in Northern NSW.

Some questions we are frequently asked:


(1) Why have we chosen to use PLA instead of traditional petroleum based plastics?

To put it simply a lot less energy is used to produce them so they are a more sustainable option.  Two key indicators for environmental footprint are greenhouse gases (GHG’s) and non-renewable energy use. Measuring these two impacts and comparing data between NatureWorks Ingeo PLA and traditional polymers (like PET & PS), provides a clear picture of the eco-advantage provided by PLA.  Let’s take a look:

COMPARING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

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Manufacturing Ingeo produces 60% less greenhouse gases than traditional polymers like PET & PS  (*CIT stands for “currently implemented technology”)

COMPARING NON-RENEWABLE ENERGY USE

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Manufacturing Ingeo uses 50% less non-renewable energy (NREU) than traditional polymers like PET & PS  (*CIT stands for “currently implemented technology”)


(2) Is the corn used to make the PLA sourced from 3rd world countries?

No, the corn is sourced from producers within a 30-mile radius of Blair, New England, USA.

(3) Does NatureWorks Ingeo PLA require GMO corn?

No, special crops or modifications are not required to produce Ingeo PLA. NatureWorks LLC purchases corn sugar (dextrose) to make PLA. The corn used to make the dextrose is a mixed stream of non-GMO and GMO corn grown in the Blair, NE, USA area. During the manufacture of PLA, the multiple-stage processing and high heat used to create the PLA polymer removes all traces of genetic material.

(4) Because it’s made from corn, does NatureWorks Ingeo PLA take away from the food supply?

PLA is made from dextrose (sugar) that is derived from field corn already grown for many industrial & functional end-uses.   Non productive land that is set aside for industrial crops – not food crops – is utilised.  NatureWorks use less than 1/20th of 1% (0.0005%) of the annual global corn crop today, so there’s little to no impact on food prices or supply.

In the future NatureWorks PLA will be made from cellulosic raw materials, agricultural wastes and non-food plants as part of a long term plan to transition the current raw material supply to residual biomass.  These future alternatives are a key part of the journey to responsible innovation.

(5) Does NatureWorks Ingeo PLA biodegrade in landfills?

No, due to the low oxygen concentration and drop in temperature, the natural environment will retard molecular weight loss thus not allowing PLA to become biodegradable.

It should be noted though that neither does anything else!  The reality is that today’s waste reduction systems capture just a small amount of the total plastic flowing into landfills, and options for recycling and composting are limited.  Because a landfill does not offer the climate necessary to compost, it is unlikely that any product will decompose efficiently.  That said, if both biobased Ingeo products and oil-based plastic products end up in a landfill, the Ingeo products are already better because they contributed less greenhouse gases and used less nonrenewable energy when they were made, something oil-based products cannot achieve.

(6) Does NatureWorks Ingeo PLA emit methane when landfilled?

Ingeo PLA goes through a two-step degradation; the first step is hydrolysis where the material is reduced down to a low molecular weight (<10,000) before becoming biodegradable. At that point the molecule is a food source for naturally occurring micro-organisms.

This reaction is temperature and humidity dependent. If there were typical sub-surface temperatures (>3-4 feet) and humidity, it would take decades before the polymer would degrade even to its half life of 40,000 molecular weight. Methane is produced by organisms during the anaerobic phase of metabolism using food waste as a source in a typical landfill environment. Thus PLA cannot be a source of methane unless it becomes biodegradable, which will not occur in landfill conditions.


(7) Under what conditions will PLA degrade?

In order to degrade, PLA must be exposed to temperatures greater than 60°C (140°F) and relative humidity greater than 90% for approximately 60 to 80 days.  This can be achieved in an industrial composting facility.

(8) How should I dispose of my empty PLA bottle?

Empty bottles are best disposed of with general household waste, or placed in an industrial compost bin.

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