Compostable Packaging Test: Natureworks Ingeo Corn Cups

by , 04/26/11

 sustainable design, green design, packaging the future, biodegradable packaging, green packaging, composting test, green materials, nature works corn cups, compostable productsThe cup, about a month after it was added to the compost bin in my backyard.

As the Natureworks Ingeo (the brand name for the plastic the cup is made from) site states in its very comprehensive page on the material content, these cups are not made from oil: “If you replace the PET in 100,000 plastic food containers with Ingeo, you can save greenhouse gas emissions equal to driving a car 16,000 miles and an amount of non-renewable energy equal to 19 barrels of oil or 775 gallons of gasoline.” They also use only a very small percentage of the world’s corn, so at this point, they don’t affect food prices. And it’s not corn that the cups are really made of — it’s the sugar from corn; we only need a sugar source. This could include sugar beets, sugar cane, wheat and more.

Moreover, the company says that in the future, “Ingeo will be made from cellulosic raw materials, agricultural wastes and non-food plants.” Ingeo’s overall life cycle analysis is better than plastic cups, but higher than paper (though according to their data, this will change with new materials that are coming next).

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  1. dillydallydawn April 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Personally I think this is a great start to alternatives for actual plastic cups. If we support the industry behind these new developments, they will get better with time! Now we just need more commercial composting systems!

  2. EGL_TGX April 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    All of these compostable plastics are heat triggered. Most people who “compost” at home are not really composting, which requires lots and lots of turning in order to get the heat up to 145F to 155F for 15 or more days. At about 140F these containers break down.

    I did not see in the article whether the containers were made with non-GMO corn or not. Good luck finding these corn-based plastics made with certified organic corn.

    It is best to stick to reusable bottles and utensils or paper products.

  3. bumstear April 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I hate these cups! Most of the time they end up in the recycling bins, so they end up getting mixed with all the regular plastics… Then they dilute the recycled product and make it unusable. If you need to use disposable cups, use either real plastic and recycle or use paper cups!

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