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cpla utensils beside a tray of food

What is tPLA and cPLA? Everything You Need To Know

Clock3 min read

You may have heard of PLA, but what makes tPLA or cPLA different? These two variations on PLA products bring unique advantages to the eco-friendly packaging arena.

In this article, we will explore:

cpla hot cup lid

What is tPLA and cPLA?

To understand cPLA and tPLA, you have to know a little about PLA, or polylactic acid.

PLA products are bio-based and biodegradable alternatives to petroleum-based plastics. They are manufactured from any fermentable sugar, usually corn. PLA provides a much-needed eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastics. For a deeper dive on PLA, check out our PLA Guide.

PLA is a comparable, environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional plastics. However because its made from corn and not oil-based materials, rigidity and heat resistance isn’t as high as that of conventional plastics. Conventional plastics come in a wide variety of numbered types with different properties for various applications.

This is why cPLA and tPLA were developed.

These two variations on PLA strengthen PLA’s weaknesses while offering the same benefits.

  • cPLA = Crystallized PLA. It’s processed by applying high pressure and heat to PLA, chalk, and other biodegradable and bio-based additives. This causes the material to crystallize, resulting in a harder product that’s less susceptible to heat degradation. CPLA lids are commonly used for coffee cups.
  • tPLA = Talc-injected PLA is created by combining the two materials at a ratio usually around 70% PLA and 30% talc. Talc is a natural mineral with very high thermal stability that helps PLA mold into harder more heat resistant materials. For that reason, tPLA utensils are a common eco-friendly option. Talc is not renewable but it is an abundant natural resource.

compostable tpla utensils

What are the environmental benefits of tPLA and cPLA packaging products?

Like PLA, these two materials require 65% less energy to produce than traditional plastics. They also compost completely in industrial composting facilities.

1.  Biodegradable – PLA meets international standards for biodegradability as it is a plant based material. Both tPLA and cPLA will naturally degrade over time. Like PLA, both varieties will decompose faster in a commercial composting facility.

2. Compostable – tPLA is 100% compostable in 3–6 months in a commercial facility. cPLA is 100% compostable in 2–4 months in a commercial facility.

3. No toxic fumes – Unlike traditional plastics, these two options won’t emit toxic fumes during incineration.

The food packaging benefits of tPLA:

  • Can withstand temperatures up to 200°F
  • Reusable and dishwasher safe
  • Certified compostable by BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute)

The food packaging benefits of cPLA:

  • Can withstand temperatures up to 180°F
  • 100% renewable and bio-based

Are tPLA or cPLA food packaging products right for my business?

If you currently use the following items and you’re passionate about providing eco-friendly packaging products, then tPLA and cPLA are terrific options for you:

We offer a large variety of free samples of these products and many more for you to try before buying full cases. To learn more about Good Start Packaging’s cost-effective PLA and other environmentally friendly products, please reach out!