From Plastic To PLA: The Sustainable Packaging Issue

Sustainability is a subject that is always on our minds, whether it is in our personal lives or for Mush Superfood. And although nobody can be perfect, nor should we try to be, we continuously strive and look for better solutions that contribute to a better and ecofriendly world.

That is why since the beginning of 2020, we changed our packaging to a different type of kraft bag that is 100% compostable; it is completely made out of PLA (cornstarch or cane sugar pulp), which is also CO2-neutral. 

Also, our stickers are made out of recycled paper, and printed with non-toxic ink.

From plastic to compostable and biodegradable packaging

In 1965 by a Swedish company called Celloplast patented the plastic bag. Engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin was the one who designed this one-piece polyethylene shopping bag, and it quickly began to replace cloth and plastic in Europe.

Today plastic bags plague the oceans along with other waste that is scattered all over the world. Bangladesh was actually the first country in the world to implement a ban on thin plastic bags in 2002 after it was found they played a huge part in clogging drainage systems during disastrous flooding. Soon after, other countries started taking action as well. 

Initiatives have been made in the last decades to get rid of plastics altogether. Compostable packaging solutions have become a popular trend among businesses in countries around the world.

Biodegradability and compostability are at the core of sustainability. Once you’re done with the packaging, throw it away, and it’ll decompose back into nature. Molded pulp inserts (like PLA) are a common material used within packaging today. It is an extremely sustainable alternative to many packaging solutions within the current industry.

PLA?

Polylactic Acid, most commonly known as PLA, is a polymer made from renewable resources. Nowadays, PLA is a very popular filament material. The number of PLA printed products are already huge. PLA is biodegradable and nature-friendly.

Although PLA seems like a very good replacement for non-sustainable packaging, there is some confusion regarding the compost-ability and the bio-degradability of PLA. As PLA is made from renewable sources, such as starch (e.g. corn, potatoes, etc.), soy protein, cellulose, and lactic acid, it is compostable, but this process is only considered “composted” when 3 criteria are met:

  1. The material breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass.
  2. The PLA fully disintegrates
  3. No toxic residues are left, and the compost supports plant growth

The process of biodegradation and its duration is also highly dependent on the environment. In short, heat, humidity, and microbes are the three necessary elements for visible degradation in the span of one year.

PLA decays best in high-temperature environments. Humidity, 60°C temperature, and microorganisms are required, which can be found in garden soil. It takes roughly six months for visible cracks and signs of decay, but that too profoundly depends on your soil sample.

In ordinary room-conditions, PLA will last for hundreds of years.

We probably can all agree that we have much more to learn about the way we use packaging in our daily lives. Because although even these new promising options, sometimes turn out to not be the answer we hoped for after all. We can only say; let’s all stay open minded to new open solutions, and be flexible in changing wherever it is needed!

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