PLA is like plastic but without the petrol bit and a lot more corny.

PLA or to give it its confusing full name polylactic acid (aka polylactide) is a perfect natural solution to the un-natural problem of petrol based materials like polypropylene ( aka as PP) and polyethylene (aka PET) is made with the low quality corn, and we even throw in a bit of waste generated from the corn industry (if we were going to get technical we would call this byproduct, but we don't want to bore you, so ignore this bit).

We will look at all the amazing benefits of a PLA based material and how it's a great answer to all those nasty PP and PET containers.

The production bit

It's all going to get a bit technical here but essentially PLA is a material commonly referred to as a polymer . we don't want to get boring here so a polymer needs something called monomers (thick of these as bricks or building blocks) and PLA has two of these , lactide acid and lactide ( don't worry the boring bit is almost done) , so like a wall, bricks alone aren't enough you need cement and in order to get our two monomers to create our PLA cups, deli containers etc , you add a carbohydrate (typically corn starch but can also be cassava and sugarcane, it's all down to what is closest to it's production) and when you combine all these together you get a PLA cup, deli container or portion pot, whichever you prefer.

We have created a nice picture to show you how this all works.

The environmental bit

PLA is as mentioned, a plant based material which means its a natural solution to the un-natural problem of petrol based plastics , it's meets the following standards.

  1. EU & UK EN13432 certified as compostable.
  2. US ASTM D6400 certified as compostable.
  3. Australian AS5810 certified as compostable.

To meet these standards it must decompose with 30 to 90 days without leaving toxic contamination and turn into nutrient rich compost.

It comes from a naturally renewable and sustainable material and due to it's rapid growth rate, it grows much more rapidly than trees, so it's a great alternative to deforestation.

If your wondering how much carbon is saved compared to nasty plastic stuff , here is a pretty handy picture.

The disposal bit

Most of our products are designed to be composted by a company like First Mile* that specialises in processing plant based materials but a number of our companies compost them at home and the times vary based on the health of your composter, we are conducting our own tests on how long it takes at home, but until the research is completed we can't recommend composting at home**, but as they are made from plants, there really isn't a reason not too, although legally we can't say you can.

The reality is, the only researched disposal method is a commercial waste collection but we often get asked “what happens if it ends up in the normal waste” , well the answer to this is simple(ish), depending on where you live, it will either go to a waste disposal site ( thankfully this is becoming less and less common) or a Energy for Waste facility (EFW) to make renewable and non toxic energy.

So it's still a winner, but commercial waste collection is always the best option as its completely circular and the compost created can be used to eliminate peat based compost, which is really really bad for the planet.

Here's a simply way of explaining the waste process.

The temperature bit

PLA is a great material but it isn't great for foods that are above 60 degrees, so only use it for cold and warm foods.


Looking for more information, click the download picture to download a information sheet.

*The Pure Option is not connected with First Mile, it's just we have heard good things about them but this is not a recommendation, only an example.

** We can't state this enough we are not recommending you compost at home as we haven't finished research in this area yet.