Frequently asked questions
Q: By making bioplastics from plants we eat, such as corn, will we see food shortages or an increase in food prices?
A: No. There was a 10% surplus of corn in the U.S. in 2009, one reason why the big agri-businesses are working harder than ever to try to find places to use corn and its by products (corn syrup, dextrose, adhesives, starch, oils, sorbitol, ethanol, etc) The entire bioplastics industry is expected to use less than 1% of the U.S. corn crop. By comparison, ethanol, used as an additive to gasoline, uses 25% of the corn grown in the U.S.
But the bioplastic industry is working hard to find ways to diversify their source of raw materials by testing products based on switchgrass, potatoes, sugarcane and other sources. The cost of a barrel of oil, according to the global consulting firm LECG, has two to three times more impact on retail food prices than grain prices, especially in 2008 when oil prices jumped to record highs.
Q: What is bagasse?
A: Bagasse is made from sugarcane. Rather than throwing away or burning used sugarcane stalks, the pulp is made into a paper-like substance called bagasse. Bagasse can be molded into different shapes and products that are perfect for food service.
Q: What is the heat tolerance of bagasse?
A: Bagasse is fully heat tolerant like paper. Bagasse can even be put in the microwave. As with paper, extremely hot food might cause bagasse to lose some of its strength, but bagasse is one of the only biodegradable food service products in the world that can handle hot temperatures.
Q: If I throw these products in the trash, will they biodegrade in a landfill?
A: Most landfills are not designed to allow biodegrading of their contents. Our products will react in landfills like other organic waste such as food. They’re fully compostable in a commercial composting facility. But even if they go to a landfill, they’re more beneficial than traditional plastic because they reduce our dependency on oil and use less energy to produce. In addition, they’re made from renewable resources like corn, sugarcane, or bulrush.