As the name implies, corn starch biocompostables are made from corn starch. The starch is converted into a polymer, the main ingredient in materials that have a plastic-like feel. The plastics can be clear or opaque, soft or hard. A kind of acid called polylactic acid (PLA) is made from the corn starch. This is why corn starch biocompostables are sometimes called PLA plastics.
PLA plastics are molded the same way conventional plastic is. They can be molded, extruded, or shaped by heating and cooling (thermal shaping).
Biocompostable Means More than Biodegradable
Biocompostable plastics are called so because they are a step beyond just biodegradable. For a plastic to be considered biocompostable, it must meet certain criteria. For instance, it must decompose at the same rate as paper, and it must break down into harmless material such as water, carbon dioxide, or biomass (organic matter).
Biocompostable plastic must not produce any toxic substances as it decomposes. It must also break down to the point that it cannot be discerned or filtered out of the surrounding compost. PLA plastics cannot be recycled. They must be composted.
The Benefits of Corn Starch Biocompostables
No toxic chemicals associated with conventional plastic (such as polyvinyl chloride or dioxin)
Can be disposed of in your home compost pile
Eco-friendly (made from a renewable resource and less wasteful)
Especially well-suited for cold applications, such as in the freezer (this is good news, since chemicals from conventional plastic tend to leach into food when frozen)
Corn allergies are not an issue since the allergen, profilin, is destroyed in the manufacturing process.
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