Busting The Myths On PLA

There is a lot of ambiguity around PLA, so let’s clear that up…

PLA is not a magic solution,

But it is still a pretty good one.  

Polylactic Acid or PLA comes from renewable resources. You may have heard of Biobags, which can be made from PLA. This cornstarch-based, biodegradable thermoplastic is less impactful on the environment, compared to other plastics. It is useful as a substitute to petroleum-based plastics like PET.

But… it is not a magic solution to the plastic problem. There are both pros and cons to its use.  


  • Made from renewable raw materials.
  • It takes less energy and this produces less greenhouse gas to produce PLA, compared to fossil-based plastic
  • Resistant to organic solvents and does not release toxins – this is very important as it means no toxic fumes are released when oxygenated.
  • PLA is also typically used at 100%, not as an additive.
  • Easy to work with and requires less energy to transform
  • Inexpensive


  • A LOT of corn is used in its production. Can we continue to farm large quantities of corn for packaging when there are people that are starving? Is this ethical?
  • Limited use in the consumer space
  • The disposal is not easy. It is also confusing, the specialised recycling services required are not always available to consumers.
  • Lastly, it is NOT easily recyclable or compostable.

A big problem with PLA products is that they are disposed of as plastics. When PLA is mixed in with other plastics, this affects the quality and resale value of the recycled materials and damages equipment. Even though it is recyclable, it does not go into your home recycling bin, as would a milk carton. This is because it is indistinguishable from PET plastics. 

There is a lot of time spent looking into new alternatives to packaging, like moulded pulp etc. however, many of the products used today that are recyclable or compostable are not disposed of correctly. With all of this talk around eco-packaging, why does revolutionary sustainable packaging continue to pile up in the landfill?   


Due to the definition of ‘compostable’, it can be tricky to understand the afterlife of PLA. It is compostable material, but only in industrial environments.  

Sadly, PLA is not home-compostable, without the intense heat of industrial composting, bioplastics won’t degrade on their own in a meaningful timeframe. Typical backyard compost piles do not have a high enough temperature or moisture level to fully break down PLA. To properly dispose of PLA plastics, you have to send them to a commercial facility. These facilities use extremely controlled environments to speed up decomposition. However, the process can still take up to 90 days. 

When PLA ends up in landfill (an environment with little to no light or oxygen), they can still take 100 to 1000 years to decompose. As PLA products do not usually reach the industrial composting sites, they end up contributing to the rapidly growing landfill pile. Whilst, there are around 150 Industrial Composting and Organics Recycling facilities in Australia, many people do not have access to these facilities. 

In the landfill environment, the biodegradable products break down anaerobically, meaning without oxygen, which creates methane-producing bacteria that begin to decompose the waste and generate methane. Some landfills collect methane that is produced in their landfills and use it to create electricity, but most do not.



There is also a lack of information around definitions such as biodegradable. There are concerns in regards to the requirements necessary to label something as biodegradable. Requirements surrounding leaving “no toxic residue“ are unclear, as they may break down but might also be filled with toxic chemicals.

Also, the amount of time the product takes to biodegrade is ‘a reasonably short period of time’, what does that mean? Some businesses use the phrase ‘Made with biodegradable plastic’. Since they are not technically saying it is biodegradable there is nothing stopping them. These loopholes highlight some serious issues. 


The confusion around PLA

There is some ambiguity around PLA, as it is not a polyacid, but rather a polyester. Confusion surrounding the compost-ability and the biodegradability of PLA makes it difficult to understand. Uncertainty from consumers also comes from the difference between the indistinguishable types of plastics they are using.  

PLA is a bioplastic or a bio-based plastic and is the cheapest and most common source of bioplastic.  

Bioplastics are not new, they have been around for at least 100 years, and are currently being used in many different industries, from packaging to health care. PLA is one bioplastic that can be produced from manufacturing equipment that already exists, thus making it more cost-efficient to create.


Why haven’t I heard about PLA?

A plausible reason for the lack of PLA seen is the uncertainty behind its durability and usability in the consumer space. In the plastics market, it has a few limitations. It does not perform well when exposed to everyday environments like heat, moisture, sunlight. The material degrades faster than most other plastics, so PLA will not hold up in environments such as a hot car or in a microwave. Unfortunately, PLA is not durable enough to be used in most consumer products.


Where can PLA be used?

PLA plastics are often used for plastic films and food containers, as they are safe for all food packaging applications. Although, it has a low glass transition temperature, so it is unsuitable to hold hot liquid. Furthermore, it is not watertight. Some of the most common uses include plastic films, bottles, and biodegradable medical devices. These products are expected to biodegrade within 6-12 months. 


A solution?

It is so important to give consumers all of the information they need. Businesses can claim they are biodegradable or compostable, which is great, but what does that mean and what should the consumer do? Adding in a postcard explaining what to do with the packaging after use or supplying infographics is a helpful addition to your package.

Why reusable shopping bags make sense

Around the world single-use plastic bags – the ones you’d know from grocery stores, clothes shops and department stores – are going away. A relic of the throw-away culture that the world is rapidly leaving behind, there are still something like 150 million single-use bags chucked in the garbage each year in Australia alone.

  Continue reading

What are bioplastics made of?

Plastics are all around us. Virtually every manufactured item either has plastic components or had plastics involved at some time during its construction.  Around 99.8% of the time, those plastics were made from fossil fuel sources. But that tiny remainder – 0.2% – represents plastic made from biological sources, including seaweed, plants and agricultural byproducts. These are the bioplastics, and their tiny share of global plastic production is growing every year.

At Roocreate, we’re excited about the capabilities of bioplastics.

The reason is that, to date, most of the bad press about plastics stems from the fact they are made with fossil fuels and don’t biodegrade easily. Bioplastics from renewable living sources however give all the convenience of conventional plastic without much of the pollution. And scientific advances are making them greener and more economically viable every year.

Seaweed bioplastics

While other feedstocks compete with crops for field space on Earth’s limited arable land and freshwater, seaweed comes from the vastness of the oceans. Requiring no irrigation and having the fastest growth rate of any plant (sometimes faster than the hour hand on a clock), seaweeds are an ideal candidate for bioplastics.

Specifically, these giant algaes suits use in polylactic acid bioplastics (PLA). It is a material that holds a great deal of promise to be the world’s leading kind of bioplastic.

While there are over 20,000 types of seaweed and kelp forests that rival the Amazon, the global annual harvest is very small. Further, this field is very new and only a few kinds are currently used for bioplastics.

These are not usually harvested from wild “sea forests”. Instead, they are cultivated intentionally, either close to shore or alongside fish farms and are naturally fertilised by fish waste (especially the nitrogen and phosphorus that is otherwise washed away). When the time is right the seaweed is harvested, brought ashore, dried, milled and treated to extract the lactic acid needed to create PLA.

Cassava starch bioplastics

This is what we use here at RooCreate! Cassava is a tropical food crop. Its various names, such as manioc and tapioca, all refer to the roots of vigorous, drought-tolerant shrubs in the euphorbia plant family. As harvested, cassava is at once poisonous and almost pure starch. After lengthy treatment for safe human consumption, it provides a lot of energy but otherwise lacks nutritional value. For these reasons, it is an ideal feedstock for starch-based bioplastics.

The factors that make cassava so promising for bioplastics (and biofuels) are interlocking:

  • It grows well in impoverished or dry soils that are marginal for other crops
  • Take out its water weight and cassava is 95% starch
  • It is poisonous and requires lengthy and costly preparation to make it safe for human consumption.

Yes, despite cassava being vital for food security for millions of people around the world, it is toxic (sometimes lethally). After harvest, the roots require thorough washing, peeling, preparation and cooking before they can be eaten. This can take days. For industrial uses, neutralising these natural poisons is not important – greatly increasing the economic case for cassava starch’s use in bioplastics.

The crop shows great promise given that thermoplastics derived from various sources of plant starch currently dominate bioplastics around the world – accounting for about half of global annual production.

Can plastics actually be green?

Bioplastics is a rapidly developing field. Scientists around the world are using advanced chemistry to make regular breakthroughs in developing new materials, reducing ecological impacts and making growing the feedstocks more profitable for producers.

At the same time, sources for these new bioplastics are being developed to fit in with existing sustainable agriculture and aquaculture practices, often through using waste or byproducts. Making plastics green is the goal.

As the field continues to enlarge its current 0.2% share of the world plastics industry, you will see bioplastics around you more and more.

Bioplastic facts

  • They are certainly better for the environment overall, but not all kinds of bioplastic biodegrade. Some rarer kinds are even more stable than traditional plastics.
  • Most bioplastics are derived from some kind of saccharide or “sugar”, such as cellulose, glucose or lactose.
  • While the field is developing rapidly, bioplastics are nothing new. Both cellophane and celluloid are bioplastics and have been around for more than 100 years.

Get the facts: Eco Boxes

Our eco box fact sheets can help you get started choosing the right box for your product.

Need help deciding? Whether it’s food packaging, or beauty product packaging, takeaway containers, or general product packaging –  our experienced design team can help you make the right decision.

Recycled Eco Product Box using post consumer waste

We offer 100% post-consumer waste boxes suitable as a presentation box. With few eco box options in the current market, we’ve made sure to source only the best options available. With a 285GSM paperboard, it is the ideal brand box.

The recycled box has full print options. Match it with your custom design or brand identity, and get ready to send out to customers.

Design features:
• 100% post-consumer waste box
• Ideal presentation box to show off your product
• Full print options
• 285GSM paperboard

View more details…


Moulded Pulp Clamshell box with sleeve

Moulded pulp is traditionally made from recycled paperboards or newspaper. Mostly used as a protective packaging for food or storage trays, such as egg boxes, it has quickly become a popular choice as an eco-package for a wide variety of products.

Design features:
• 100% recyclable
• Reusable packaging
• Contains no toxins or chemicals
• With a custom designed sleeve, embossed lettering, stickers and/or labels, it is the perfect addition to any brand packaging

View more details…


Introduction to eco-package design

About Eco Packaging
Introduction to eco-package design

RooCreate is passionate about the environment and eco package design, and we are proud to convert that passion into action. Through our unique online platform, we are proud to offer businesses around the world the opportunity to invest in the environment, as well as boost their business.

What is eco package design?

Sustainable packaging can be confusing, particularly seeing that there is no strict definition or criteria to what sustainable packaging is.

Our aim is to simplify this process, making it easy, affordable and accessible to everyone. We want to ensure that while we tackle sustainability issues, businesses are not suffering, which is why our solution is extraordinary.

RooCreate strongly believes that design does not have to be sacrificed for the sake of the environment, and that both can go hand-in-hand.

Our eco process

The process is simple. Take our interactive quiz to narrow down your project requirements, which also gives us an insight into your business and brand identity. From there, we collaborate together to create the ideal design for your product packaging, whilst utilising the perfect eco-material. At RooCreate, you’ll have the choice between several eco-materials, meaning you won’t be stuck with a boring, brown box. We will work with you throughout the way, ensuring that the end result is impeccable. Following the final design, we will even assist with the entire printing and supply process from our chosen manufacturers.

Eco package design is vital for products and RooCreate understands the tight timeline and small budgets of companies. Our belief is that all businesses can change their habits and start adopting sustainable methods to not only save the planet, but also grow their business.

Take a leap into eco-package design and discover what it can do for your business and products.

About Eco Boxes and Bags

Here at RooCreate we have several types of non-plastic bags available – from cassiva starch (non-plastic) to hessian bags to cotton (or calico) bags.

Our boxes come in several different styles too – depending on your needs.   We have thin lightweight cardboard product boxes and thicker style boxes that you can send in the mail.

View our products.