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What are your compostable products made from?

The products we carry are made from a wide variety of compostable materials to satisfy a diverse range of end uses. For a more in-depth look at each material, see our Compostable Material Guides.

Plant Fiber

Hundreds of different fibrous plants can be manufactured into alternatives to tree-based paper products. The main source of plant fiber is wheat straw, though it is occasionally supplemented by sugarcane and bamboo. In many agricultural processes, wheat straw is treated merely as the agricultural waste that remains after the grain is extracted. It is commonly thrown away or burned. Straw is a valuable resource that can be molded into disposable products like plates, take-out containers, bowls, etc. Using plant fiber protects forests, uses less energy and emits fewer toxic chemicals than paper alternatives. It also provides an extra income source for farmers, and is a renewable and sustainable resource.


These days, many tree-based paper products can be replaced by renewable plant fibers like the sugarcane and bamboo paper products in our NoTree Collection. While we believe that the best way to protect the world’s forests is to reduce the consumption of tree-based products, many of our customers want products that cannot yet be replicated by plant fiber such as paper bags. The paper products we carry are mostly made with recycled paper and are typically certified by the Forest Stewardship Council guaranteeing the responsible management of the forests.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is a bio-based plastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca roots, and sugarcane. Our PLA products are generally made from a type of PLA called Ingeo™. To make Ingeo™, sugar from plants is turned into lactic acid through fermentation which is converted into polymer. At this stage, it is shaped into pellets which can later be transformed into a wide variety of products. Manufacturing Ingeo™ produces 75% fewer greenhouse gasses and uses 50% less non-renewable energy than traditional polymers like PET & polystyrene.

cPLA and tPLA

cPLA and tPLA were developed to provide the base PLA material with improved rigidity and heat resistance.

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 that helps PLA mold into harder materials. For that reason, tPLA utensils are a common eco-friendly option. Talc is not renewable but it is an abundant natural resource.


Cellophane is created from the cellulose taken from cotton, wood, hemp, or other sustainably harvested natural sources. It starts as a white dissolving pulp, which is 92%–98% cellulose. Then, the raw cellulose is converted into cellophane. We carry a variety of flat and gusseted cellophane bags as a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)

PHA is a polymer that is produced naturally through the process of bacterial fermentation. This process uses microorganisms to convert sugars or lipids into a compostable bioplastic that is marine degradable and compostable. We carry PHA straws that are certified home compostable and marine-degradable.