Bioplastic. Biodegradable. Bio-equivalent. Drop-in. Bio-based. Compostable. Plant-based.
Are you exhausted yet or at least thoroughly confused? We get it. These terms get thrown around interchangeably quite a bit, but they don’t mean the same things. Let’s call this #EpicConfusionForTheConsumer.
First, let’s talk about what a bioplastic actually is.
When you see something labelled as a “bioplastic”, that simply means the material must contain a minimum of 25% bio-based or “plant-based” content from natural, renewable sources, most commonly sugarcane or corn using today’s available technology. The source of the renewable content is different depending on the type of bioplastic and the region in which it’s produced, but the percentage is the same. The remaining 75% can be any concoction of petroleum-based additives and chemicals that make the plastic more stretchy or heat resistant, and of course, cheaper to produce.
25%. Have you ever passed an exam with only 25%? It feels more like those nachos where you can see every single shred of cheese and the bottom chips are totally dry and desperately unhappy. 25% is not a result we strive for.
We decided years ago that this was not who we were going to be. We’re committed to making products and packaging with the highest possible plant-based content, and we don’t use any additives that have been identified as being potentially hazardous to human health or the environment. We’re not trying to hit a minimum standard. We’re trying to drop-kick fossil fuels and hazardous chemicals out of the products and packaging in our everyday lives.
And we’re trying to speak everyday English while we’re doing it. You’ll see us use the term “bioplastic” from time to time and even “bio-based” when we have to be more science-y. But the bottom line is that the source of our raw materials is plants, so to keep things simple, we call our materials “plant-based”.
There’s also a ton of active research to expand the sources of plant-based materials used for bioplastics to include agricultural waste and even CO2 re-capture. Our products and packaging are not all dependent on one type of plant-based material, and we continue to tweak our proprietary recipes to incorporate the latest scientific developments.
We’ve shared our thoughts on hazardous chemicals here.
And on biodegradability and compostability here.