1. What is PLA?
PLA is the common name for Polylactic Acid or Polyactide. PLA is made from starch rich plants such as corn, wheat and sugar beets. These plants are first milled to separate the starch, from which is unrefined dextrose is processed. The unrefined dextrose goes through a fermentation process and the result is lactic acid. After condensation, two lactic acide molecules are converted into one lactide. The lactide molecule is then purified through vacuum distillation and a solvent-free melt causes the ring shaped molecule to turn into long chain polymers.
2. What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Biodegradable means that the products break down through a naturally occurring microorganism, such as fungi or bacteria over a period of time. Biodegradable products are usually made from plant or animal sources. Biodegradable products can create methane, a greenhouse gas with 62 times the Global Warming Potential of carbon dioxide when dumped into landfills. Also, biodegradable waste may contain toxins.
Compostable plastics mean that the products must be able to break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass at the same rate as paper. Also, the broken down product should not produce any toxic material and should be able to support plant life. Compostable products are usually made from plant materials. Because biodegradable is used loosely with no legal enforced definition, compostability is more desirable for disposable products.
3. Is Karat Earth PLA biodegradable or compostable?
PLA is both 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable. Karat Earth PLA products are certified
4. What does it mean by 100% Compostable?
100% compostable means that PLA products are fully renewable. It can be converted back to monomer and polymer, or, it can be biodegraded into water, carbon dioxide and organic materials. PLA is much more sustainable than regular petroleum made plastic.
5. How long does it take to completely compost PLA products?
Typically, PLA will completely compost in commercial compost in roughly 30-45 days. In home composting bins they may take longer.
6. Will PLA compost in my trash can?
PLA products require certain amounts of heat, moisture and air to compost. Regrettably typical landfills do not contain these necessary circumstances and the items dumped in the trash usually end up at these landfills. Also, landfills are typically sealed which means that decomposition happens below the surface and what is thrown in the trash can is preserved for decades after.
7. Where can I dispose of my PLA products efficiently?
You can dispose your PLA products at the closest composting facility. If you are in California, you can locate the closest facility
here. If you are located outside of California, you can find a facility near you
8. What are the storage requirements for PLA?
PLA must be kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry location. Keep the PLA products under the temperature of 110 degrees (F)
and below 90% humidity at all times.
9. How should I handle PLA products during transportation?
Keep PLA products in cool, dry spaces with the temperature never exceeding 110 degrees (F). Although not required, refrigerated truck is highly recommended in transporting PLA products.
10. Can I use PLA products for hot beverages?
Yes, if the beverage temperature does not exceed 110 degrees (F). PLA products perform better when used with cold beverages although the typical heat tolerance of PLA products is 110 degrees (F).
11. Can you do custom printed PLA cups?
Yes, please contact our office at 800.857.1988 to obtain price quote for custom printed PLA cups.
12. What is the average cost of PLA compared to regular plastic products?
The average cost depends on the brand, type, and size of the order. Yet the cost compared to regular plastic products is becoming more competitive as the interest in biodegradable product rises. The disparity in prices is about 15+%.
13. Is PLA safe for food services?
Yes, PLA is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA
Section 184.1061. PLA also is a nonvolatile and odorless polymer. Karat Earth is certified by
SGS HACCP for safe food management system.
14. Are PLA products safe to eat?
PLA products are not edible yet are generally non-toxic. Small pieces of PLA will most likely pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract. Once passed through the gastrointestinal tract it will be eliminated in the stool. Please consult a doctor if pain or discomfort arises.
15. I am allergic to corn; could I still use PLA products?
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Yes, the heat used in the process of deriving the starch from corn destroys the immunologically reactive profiilin. Profilin is the chemical that usually causes an allergic reaction and is not found in PLA products.