Eco-Products manufacturing materials include Corn PLA, Sugarcane, Plant Starch, Post Consumer Recycled Plastic RPET, Post Consumer Recycled Fiber PCF and Post Consumer Recycled Polystyrene RPS. This page discusses each of these materials in depth and the roll they play in the manufacturing process, society and the environment. Every Eco-Product falls into two categories: made from renewable resources (like corn, sugarcane or plant starch) or made from recycled content (like RPET, PCF or RPS).
What exactly is it? Eco-Products offers cups, lids, cutlery, straws and containers made from a biopolymer called PLA (polylactic acid). PLA is made from starchy plants like corn, grown right here in the U.S. Starch from corn kernels is processed into a biopolymer that looks, acts, and performs like petroleum-based plastics.
Why we use it? PLA performs much like traditional plastics, but with the crucial benefit of being 100% compostable in commercial compost facilities. We like PLA because it is versatile, compostable, and best of all, not petroleum derived. We even use it in place of traditional plastic linings in our GreenStripe® and World Art™ hot cups so they are entirely made from renewable materials, unlike most regular hot cups. Many of our food containers and even our compostable cutlery is made from PLA. In cutlery, the formulation of PLA is rigid and durable — perfect for high-strength needs and of course, commercial composting!
What's cool about it? Most plastics are derived from petroleum, or oil. Oil is our most valuable resource in many ways. It's also a resource that comes with a lot of negative environmental and social impacts. Our PLA products give you the option of products made from renewable resources, like corn instead of oil. Corn can be grown again and again, unlike oil which is nonrenewable. PLA plastics have the added benefit of being compostable when you are finished using them. Composting is an opportunity to divert waste that would otherwise be landfilled — and by composting, you create valuable humus which improves soil so that plants can grow again. How about that?
What is not so cool about it? PLA in the U.S. comes largely from corn. The reason for this is simple: we grow the most corn of any nation on the planet! Also, because of the large-scale agricultural system that we have today, most (88%) of U.S. corn is genetically modified (GM). We recognize the value of sustainable, organic agriculture and follow the debate and the scientific research surrounding GM crops. One day, we hope to bring you exclusively non-GM PLA, but unfortunately the infrastructure is not there yet for us — or our industry. If GM is a concern for you, check out our BlueStripe™ line of products made with post-consumer recycled content. This is a great environmental choice without the GM component.
What exactly is it? Sugarcane, also known as bagasse, is a renewable, fast growing resource that is grown for a number of purposes, like cane juice. Once the juice is extracted, the sugarcane stalk is usually incinerated or discarded. However, these crushed stalks can be saved and made into other items before they get thrown away. We reclaim this material and use it to make our bagasse items.
Why we use it? We know that forests are threatened and endangered around the world, so it is important to us to find alternative materials that do not require virgin forest resources. With bagasse, you can still use high performing disposable "paper" products, but know that you are choosing a product that is made from rapidly renewable and reclaimed sugarcane instead of trees. Best of all, at the end of its life, you can put your container or plate in the commercial compost instead of the landfill.
What's cool about it? Because we use sugarcane before it gets discarded, the stalk is now a "reclaimed resource". We are able to break it down into a pulp that can be used to make products that would otherwise be made from tree fiber. This means fewer trees are needed to make our products and we reclaimed waste that would otherwise be burned or landfilled.
What is not so cool about it? Commercial compost facilities that accept food waste are not yet widespread in the US. We hope that this changes soon because sugarcane is a valuable, fibrous addition to compost that can often support the compost process. Let us know if you learn about a compost facility that is accepting sugarcane or bagasse products.
What exactly is it? Plant Starch Material is made from a mix of 70% plant materials like corn, potatoes, and other vegetables and 30% fillers for strength and heat tolerance. These plant materials are renewable, meaning they can be grown again and again.
Why we use it? Plant Starch Material is made largely from renewable plants — unlike traditional plastics which are derived from petroleum and are nonrenewable. Replacing as much of the virgin plastic as possible with renewable materials means less virgin petroleum goes into each product. Also, Eco-Products Plant Starch Cutlery has a high-heat tolerance of 200° F, which is why we use it to make cutlery for use with foods at high temperatures.
What's cool about it? If you don't require a certified compostable solution, our Plant Starch Cutlery is heat tolerant, durable and contains nearly 70% renewable materials. That means that most of the material in this cutlery is not derived from traditional plastics!
What is not so cool about it? While Plant Starch itself is made of renewable plants, only about 70% of this cutlery is made of Plant Starch Material. The remaining 30% is comprised of strengtheners that allow you to have a heat tolerant, strong cutlery solution. Unfortunately, these strengtheners are not compostable. It can be challenging for compost facilities to tell the difference between this cutlery and other compostable options, so we encourage you to do your best and keep it out of the compost waste stream. We have compostable and recycled content cutlery if you need a different solution, and we think it's important that you know as much as possible about Plant Starch.
What exactly is it? PET (or Polyethylene terephthalate) plastic is it is one of the most common plastics in the world. You have probably seen this plastic in your soda and water bottles that are marked with the resin code #1. PET is produced from fossil fuels — typically natural gas and petroleum, but it is one of the easiest plastics to recycle. Because of this, we found a way to use post-consumer recycled PET plastic in our cups and containers. That way the recycled resin, rPET, becomes more accepted and valuable as people see how easy it is to include in regular items. Best of all, using this material means that we need use fewer virgin petroleum resources to make our products at the end of the day.
Why we use it? Our recycled PET (rPET) cups are made from 50% recycled PET bottles and our containers are 100% rPET. By including the highest amount of recycled content that we can in each item, our cups offer some great environmental benefits. For example, because there are fewer virgin raw materials used in each cup, we save resources for other uses and divert material that was headed to the landfill by repurposing it into a new product. We are excited to give a second (or third) life to PET.
What's cool about it? We like to support the growing market for this recycled material, and best of all, each and every rPET cup has already had a previous life (or two) as a plastic bottle.
What is not so cool about it? Some places are simply not able to accept and recycle rPET today. We are hoping that this changes soon. Eco-Products encourages you to contact your recycling facility to see what is accepted in your area and how you can support recycling. Ask about our BlueStripe™ products and learn where your recycling goes. We think it's pretty cool.
What exactly is it? Post-consumer fiber (PCF) is paper material that has been thrown away and recycled after someone has used it. It was once the paper that contained a memo, book report, catalogue, instruction manual, or even that pesky parking ticket. After this paper was not longer useful, someone happily recycled it, making it possible for most of those paper fibers to return to you as an Eco-Products hot cup or container.
Why we use it? Our Evolution World™ hot cups are made with 24% post-consumer recycled fiber. That means that 24% of the paper used to make these cups has already had another life as something else. This paper was sent through the recycling stream, and recycled into FDA-approved foodservice grade paperboard for Eco-Products to use in our products. Why only 24%? Well, that is currently the highest percentage of post-consumer fiber in foodservice grade paperboard available to us today. We are working to increase the amount of recycled content we offer, but for now, we bring you products with as much recycled material as possible.
What's cool about it? Products made with post-consumer recycled materials ultimately rely on fewer virgin materials. In the case of recycled fiber, this means that less virgin paper goes into the product, more recycled paper cycles through the market, and fewer forests must be cut down to feed the demand for virgin paper. Post-consumer recycled items have the added benefit of helping stimulate demand for post-consumer recycled paper, thus helping support the recycling markets here in the United States.
What is not so cool about it? While only 24% of the cup is recycled, the rest is virgin paper. It is challenging to get FDA approval and the strength and performance attributes in foodservice products when we add more post-consumer fiber. We are confident that one day we can bring you a higher amount of recycled material in these items, but for now we are a head and shoulders above the industry standard. Also, because these products are lined with a leakproof polyethylene barrier, many municipalities are simply not able to separate the lining from the container, and therefore cannot accept and recycle these type of foodservice items today. We are hoping that this changes everywhere soon because some lucky cities are having success recycling these items. Eco-Products encourages you to contact your recycling facility to see what is accepted in your area. Ask about our BlueStripe™ products and learn where your recycling goes.
What exactly is it? Post-consumer recycled polystyrene is simply polystyrene that was previously used in other products and has been recycled into our products instead of heading to a landfill. Polystyrene is a common plastic that can be identified by resin code #6. It simply doesn't make sense to us that polystyrene has only one life before it ends up in a landfill. We think that using recycled plastics wherever we can is simply the right thing to do. This is why we bring you the world's first post-consumer recycled content hot lids and cutlery!
Why we use it? Recycled content hot cup lids and disposable cutlery may seem like small things, but they are steps toward reducing the amount of non-renewable, virgin polystyrene material in most of the hot cup lids and plastic cutlery in the world. Did you know that in an average hot cup lid, there is twice the amount of plastic material (typically virgin polystyrene) in the lid than in the cup lining?! This makes the EcoLid® 25% Recycled Content Hot Cup Lid an important and industry-leading change away from disposable items finite, petroleum resources. Made with 100% RPS, our Recycled Content Cutlery is the only plastic disposable cutlery available that contains no virgin petroleum.
What's cool about it? The EcoLid® 25 is the world's first and only recycled content hot cup lid, as far as we know. Our BlueStripe™ cutlery is 100% recycled polystyrene! By including the highest amount of recycled content that we can, our lids and cutlery offer some great environmental benefits. Because there are fewer virgin raw materials used in each cup, we save resources for other uses and take material that was headed to the landfill and repurpose it into new products.
What is not so cool about it? Polystyrene is strong, durable, light, low cost—and everywhere. As a virgin material, it is made from benzene and styrene, and is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels, meaning that it basically never breaks down. As a virgin material, polystyrene has a lot of challenges—but we think it's wasteful to simply toss it away after one short use. Polystyrene is recyclable as a material, but it's not commonly accepted or recycled in most places. For recycling to increase, consumers must demand and purchase recycled content items. Eco-Products encourages you to dispose of these materials responsibly, don't litter, keep these lids and cutlery out of the environment whenever you can, and buy recycled!