What is CPLA?
Consumers are continually looking for opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint, including single use plastic items. Restaurants can take this greener initiative by switching their to-go items from plastic to plant sourced materials.
CPLA, crystalized poly lactic acid, is a heat resistant form of PLA, poly lactic acid, that is sourced from plants and can be converted into injection mold items like restaurant necessities, such as hot cup lids, trays and lids, reusable mugs, cutlery, straws, plates, and bowl. Both items are sourced more commonly from corn, due to the high volume that can be produced, but can be made from any sugar, like sugar cane or sugar beet. From the corn plants, the starch is extracted in the form of glucose, which is then converted to lactic acid. The lactic acid is then changed to a polymer through a chemical process and finally changed to a resin.
PLA can be used for clear cold cups, salad containers, deli and portion cups, the clear window on grab-and-go sandwich containers, bags and lids for a variety of products. The variety of items that can be made from PLA is based on the desire of transparency on the item and the temperature of the intended item.
PLA has a low melting point and therefore is best for cold use – up to 40 degrees Celsius or 105 degrees Fahrenheit; this limits the items that it can be used for. CPLA, however, is a heat stable option for restaurants; it is resistant up to 90 degrees Celsius or 194 degrees Fahrenheit.
CPLA is matte white after production due to the addition of chalk as a catalyst – rapidly raising and cooling the temperature during production – to create a more durable material for items, like hot cups or soup bowls, that can withstand heat. The product is 70-80% PLA and 20-30% chalk.
Eco-Friendly Biodegradable Option
The alluring desirability of CPLA versus traditional plastic is the environmental benefits of CPLA in comparison to plastic. Conventionally, plastic is treated as a recyclable item, in which consumers place anything from plastic single use cutlery to salad containers used in the pre-made meal section of grocery stores or convenience stores in the recycle bin in restaurants or at home with the wishful hope that their item will be taken to the proper channel for sustainability. However, on average, only 8 percent of items placed for recycling is reused and 90 percent is sent to a landfill and is. Plastic takes about 450 years to break down and contributes to a significant amount of pollution in their creation and destruction. Since CPLA is plant based and made from a renewable resource, the product can biodegrade in under two weeks, when properly disposed of. It also has a reduced carbon footprint versus plastic because the original crop absorbs CO2 when growing, it takes less energy to produce, and in turn, produces less gasses.
CPLA products can also be certified by the FDA to confirm food grade safety, as well as these other 3rd party organizations to confirm composability of the product.
BPI Compostable – Issued by the Biodegradable Products Institute, they confirm that products meet the ASTM D6400 standard and specifications required to be compostable.
Composter Approved – The Compost Manufacturing Alliance developed the trusted testing process for compostables. This certification is awarded to products that pass their extensive testing.
Article Written By: Sarah Huda
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