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.

What You Need To Know About Bagasse

Bagasse – the real deal.

Paper pulp, moulded pulp, wood pulp – what’s the deal? Research shows that the Molded Pulp Packaging Market is likely to surpass $4.3 billion by 2026. Now is the time to look into the truly sustainable resource that makes moulded pulp products – bagasse. With myriads of misinformation, it is more important than ever to get the facts. Bagasse is a waste product of sugarcane, that is, the fibre remaining from sugar processing.  

In the search for genuinely sustainable packaging, this is an opportunity that has gone unnoticed. With approximately 80 cane-sugar producing countries,  there is so much potential to make better use of the fibrous residue known as bagasse. 

We have access to a much more sustainable alternative.

Sugarcane is a fast-growing staple product, using waste from agriculture is a smarter option. This waste by-product is already being produced, rather than specifically farming materials such as wood, which take many years to grow. Bagasse also requires much less input to create the same amount of pulp compared to paper.  At RooCreate, we are reusing waste materials from the environment, so not to add MORE, and utilise what is already there.   

Never heard of it?

Bagasse is commonly used as a filler for paper or fibreboard. Bagasse is the eco-friendlier alternative to paper as well, it looks and feels like wood paper, but only takes 1 year to grow and harvest. This compared to paper, which can take up to 20 years to grow. 

This recyclable and compostable marvel is exactly what you need in your eco-packaging.

Key benefits of bagasse

Using bagasse protects forests and its production requires fewer toxic chemicals. Less energy and water is used to make the product, all this, in turn, plays an important role in helping Australia achieve its Renewable Energy Target. 

Businesses need to utilise rapidly renewable sources. Bagasse uses lower energy-related emissions, which help to contribute to lowering global warming. It requires less energy in the manufacturing process because it is just the fibre remaining from sugar processing. Using it as a material for packaging removes the need for transporting the bagasse away. If bagasse were left to rot, it would break down and release greenhouse gases, particularly methane, which is 27 times more dangerous to the ozone than carbon dioxide.

Importantly, it is durable and unaffected by extremes in temperature, which make it a useful material in the consumer space. Notable factors of bagasse include:         

  • microwave and freezer safe, 
  • can handle hot liquids up to 120 Degrees Centigrade 
  • oven safe up to 220 Degrees Centigrade. 

Practical Benefits

Practical benefits include space savings. Being nestable and stackable reduces storage costs as much as 70%. Protection is another benefit, bagasse gives superior shock and vibration cushioning. In addition, bagasse can be engineered to your specifications, the option of custom design is a great advantage. It offers price stability, minimal dependence on volatile price fluctuations of oil, gas and resins gives you a long term price guarantee. It also comes at a lower cost than other protective packaging options e.g. foams and thermoformed plastics.

Products made from bagasse do not need a PLA lining because it is naturally oil and leak-proof, making it both home-compostable and industrially compostable. Bagasse is a great composting material, so giving it a second life as packaging is great for the environment.

Environmental Benefits

Bagasse does not need any labels, like biodegradable, that tend to be misleading. It is both home-compostable and industrially compostable. It is a best-case scenario that the products end up in your home-compost, but they could also end up in the recycling (as they look most similar to paper products), become incinerated and lastly end up in a landfill. 

It is important to note that industrially composed materials are no better if they are also being put into landfill. Home-composting is where you can make a difference. Composting reduces methane production (a major source of greenhouse gas) and provides a series of economic and environmental co-benefits.

Bagasse has many uses outside of packaging as well, it is a major contributor in the bioenergy sector – accounting for over 60% of Australia’s dedicated bioenergy capacity. There are also projects working towards using bagasse as biomass for ethanol production.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas

The team at RooCreate have put together a list of eco-friendly Christmas ideas to help you and yours to celebrate the season in a smart, simple and sustainable way.  We hope that our list inspires you to make a few changes this year!

Homemade Gifts

Handmade gifts are a great plastic-free solution to Christmas presents

How about homemade gifts like baked goods and other food items?

Some ideas: paintings, photographs, pottery, ceramics, sewing, knitting, woodworking projects, or handmade ornaments. The sky is the limit here!  Create it yourself or purchase locally sourced gifts and food.

The best places to get locally sourced gifts and food in Wollongong is at the Friday Markets (Wollongong), Coledale Markets,  Foragers Markets (Bulli) as well as the  Flame Tree Co-Op. A bit further afield are the Berry Markets, located on the South Coast.

If you are thinking of something handmade, but are not handy yourself, why not browse Etsy?

Use Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper

Choose recyclable wrapping paper.

Every year, Australians throw out over 6,000 tonnes of wrapping paper at Christmas. This equates to rubbish that covers about 60 square km!

In order to reduce the impact wrapping paper has on our environment: avoid metallic or glossy wrapping paper and choose recyclable ones instead.

You can go a step further and use upcycled paper to wrap your gifts in a unique and creative way. And, when it comes to making your presents sparkle, opt for Bio Glitter, a biodegradable alternative to plastic-based glitter. You can use it on your crafts, décor, and even for cosmetic applications.

Skip the Wrapping Paper

Eco-friendly, reusable gift bags are a great alternative to wrapping paper

There are countless ways of making your gifts look beautiful and presentable without using gift wrap. Why not try some eco-friendly wrapping paper alternatives such as reusable gift bags, boxes, baskets, or any other types of packaging that involve no folding or tape and are super easy to use the next year? You can go wrapping free and simply put your pressies inside a stocking instead.

Limit Christmas Food Waste

In Australia, over $7.2 billion is spent on food in December alone, and almost 20% of that goes to waste. Luckily, there are some simple, doable actions that we can take to ensure that we do our part in helping to reduce the millions of tonnes of food being thrown away during the Christmas season.

  • Eat leftovers!

    20% of food at Christmas goes from table to bin
  • Send your guests home with leftovers!  Save your old takeaway containers and send your revelers home with a few leftover nibblies from the evening.
  • For ‘bring-a-plate’ get-togethers – ask your guests to sign up for sweet or savory dishes to avoid doubling up.
  • Think about ways to set out food as you go – e.g. only put out half the biscuits from a pack, then top up as the plate gets empty through the night.
  • Look up creative ways to reuse your leftovers!   Taste.com has a whole section dedicated to Christmas Leftovers.  There are dozens of recipes that can help to increase the mileage of your Christmas feast from veggie frittatas to roast turkey pizza!

Give Digital Gifts

Some of the cards available at Australia Post.

Digital gifts are another eco-friendly alternative for Christmas. Australia Post has a wide range of gift cards from travel gift cards, to movie tickets, to ridesharing (Uber and Lyft), to app store apps (Google Play and Apple App Store).

For the handy person, why not give a gift card to a hardware shop (Bunnings and Mitre 10) to help repair what they already own?

For the reader in your life, how about a Kindle Books gift card?

Use A Potted Tree

Potted trees can be kept all year round!

Using a potted tree that you care for all year round and reuse again the next year is a great way of fighting the war on Christmas waste. Basically, you buy a live Christmas tree and there is no cutting involved. You simply use leave it in its pot and water it throughout the year until the next Christmas when you get to use it again. If this isn’t really an option for you, then why not plant a tree for the one that you cut down?



Make your own decorations!

Why not make your own decorations from all the newspapers, wrapping papers, and other assorted craft supplies you’ve been saving?

For instance, you could combine pine cones, glass baubles and a driftwood branch for a beautiful addition to your Christmas decorations. Don’t have a single creative bone in your body? Not to worry, you can simply head to the op shop and grab a tree or some pre-loved Christmas decorations from last year.


During the Christmas season, there are tons of people who are actually going without even barest of necessities. Why not donate some of your items to your local charities – particularly if you have more than you need? Anything from food surplus, clothes, and electronic items can be repurposed and will be greatly appreciated.

Why not give a card donating a chicken or a cow? Programmes like Oxfam Unwrapped and Heifer International allow you to donate clean water supplies, food, and farming supplies.

Select eco-gifts (or make your own)

Choose gifts that help to support our environment instead of killing it, and opt for eco-friendly options like cotton and hemp whenever you can. Consider things like homemade deodorant, soaps, candles, dishwashing liquid, scourers, and cloths.

Our friends at Ethique have a wide array of eco-friendly soap and shampoo gift packs available.  They have eco-friendly bars of soap and shampoo for all occasions.  Learn more about how RooCreate designed the Ethique Advent Calendar with 100% compostable materials. 

Another eco-friendly Australian company we are excited about is Curated With Conscience.  Their selection of artesian gift boxes have been selected for their exceptional quality and design, ethical sourcing and sustainability.  CWC have custom gift boxes with everything from barbeque supplies, to a home day spa, to eco cleaning kits to boxes with nibblies for your whole office.

From all of us at RooCreate, we hope that you have a joyful season with friends and family alike!

Is there really an island of plastic rubbish floating in the ocean?

plastic in ocean
The Trash Vortex, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or just the Plastic Island, this giant swirl of floating rubbish in the Pacific Ocean goes by many names. But none of them quite capture what it really is and why it’s so worrying.

In this article, we’re going to sail way out to sea and dive into what’s really going on.

What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

For a start, there is no island of garbage. If you sailed to the middle of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch you wouldn’t see … anything, actually. Forget images of a stinky pile of junk picked over by a cloud of raucous seagulls. Most of the bad news is under the surface in billions of tiny little bits spread over a vast area of open water.

To get an idea of what we’re talking about, imagine the whole northern Pacific Ocean as a giant cooking pot. Coriolis effects, ocean currents and winds are stirring it in a clockwise direction. This kind of vast, yet very slow, whirlpool is called a gyre. This is our pot and we’re going to make a soup.

When we add ingredients, they, like in any swirling soup, all migrate to the centre. Natural processes, like runoff and erosion, are always washing ‘ingredients’ into the oceans and they collect in gyres all over the world. There, these natural ingredients form habitats for small marine creatures and spread nutrients as they decompose.

However, in the case of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (and the smaller but still concerning North Atlantic Garbage Patch), far too much of the ‘soup ingredients’ aren’t natural things, but rather bits of plastic, lost fishing nets and other pieces of artificial junk.

Further, while much of these artificial ingredients are washed into the ocean by natural processes, boats and ships actually just dump a fair bit right into the middle.

How big is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The simple answer is: too big. Being more definite is harder than it seems. Even the term ‘soup’ oversells what is going on. The garbage is very spread out and most of it is specks of plastic floating below the surface.

At the edges there is very little of this rubbish and it gets denser in the middle. The total estimated weight ranges from 80,000 to 3.5 million tonnes. While there are occasionally large pieces (such as entire lost shipping containers), the most concentrated part of the soup contains around 100kg of plastic waste for every square kilometre. If that doesn’t sound like much, try this on for size…

If we convert the areas and weight into their equivalents as football fields and cigarette butts, then each football field of the worst part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch contains about 295 cigarette butts. And the ‘worst part’ covers an area at least the size of New South Wales.

turtle and plastic bag

The open ocean used to be incredibly pure

The concentration of rubbish in the garbage patch is way, way too much for the animals there to deal with. Why? Because this was a ‘clean’ environment in a way that’s hard for people to imagine.

Not many people spend much time far from land, so we landlubbers don’t grasp what it’s really like. Generally, there is nothing out there. Just water, a sprinkling of microscopic life and the occasional group of passing fish, seabirds, sharks or dolphins, etc. It would not make a very interesting nature documentary if they showed the reality that the open ocean is thousands and thousands of kilometres of water as empty as the sky.

This is why even the thin soup of the garbage patch is so concerning. It’s in an environment so pure that 100kg of junk in a square kilometre is a dramatic change.

What’s in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

There is a lot of different stuff floating around in the gyre. Some of it is completely natural (such as pumice and vegetation) and a fair bit of it man-made but biodegradable (such as wood and natural-fibre rope). These aren’t the worry. The problem is the amount of synthetic material out there. This is largely single-use plastic (yes, like straws, plastic bags and toys), bits of fishing equipment and chemical sludge.

The special issue with single-use plastic is that it doesn’t biodegrade, but it does disintegrate. This means the big pieces break down into the tiny individual polymer particles.

These are so small that the animals that are out there or passing through can’t help but ingest them, just like you can’t help breathing in some dust when the wind picks up. But as plastic is indigestible, it lodges inside the animals. It blocks their digestive systems while also slowly poisoning them. And as the little fish get contaminated, the bigger fish eat them. This process concentrates the pollution in the bigger sea creatures.

It might not be overstating things to say that every single large ocean-going animal – every whale, shark, tuna, dolphin and turtle – has this plastic poisoning to some degree.

How do we clean it up?

You’ll understand why this is a tough question given what you’ve just learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. How do you filter out sub-surface ‘plastic dust’ from hundreds of thousands of cubic-kilometres of water?

The most promising idea is from a crowdfunded company that started on the back of a TED talk given by Dutch teenager Boyan Slat. Called The Ocean Cleanup, his organisation is building giant pontoon-and-net devices designed to work as an ‘artificial coastline’ to trap plastic particles. The launch of the trial device is set for 2020.

Some scientists are critical of The Ocean Cleanup’s approach though, arguing the nets will make the problem worse and also attract sea creatures – which are drawn to any structures in their largely empty environment – to the most polluted places. Ongoing research is intensive.

How can you prevent plastic pollution in the ocean

There are several ways you can help avoid contributing to the problem of plastic in the oceans.

    1. Don’t buy single-use plastics. All the plastic packaging and bottles you buy contribute to the problem. Choose and reuse glass bottles or eco-friendly packaging options like cardboard and cloth. In fact, all of Roocreate’s packaging is biodegradable.
    2. Recycle. Wherever possible, you should recycle your plastic and buy recycled plastics.
    3. Join in a clean-up day. Either as part of a big event or just a small group, coastline cleaning efforts really do help.
    4. Spread the word and support legislative measures. Raising awareness of the issue with your fellow citizens and politicians can bring change.

RooCreate is hoping to lead the way in effective design and manufacture by saying NO to single-use plastic and ensuring that all packaging is biodegradable and will not harm wildlife or the environment.

Straws: single use plastic endangering our oceans

While it was once considered responsible behaviour to dispose of one’s rubbish “thoughtfully”, nowadays we know that simply “throwing away” our waste is not the solution our planet needs. In reality, there is no “away”, not even for the humble plastic straw…

Straws suck. Here’s why.

Our quest for convenience is costing the planet big time. The plastic straw is one of the most common objects found in our oceans, and unsurprisingly, they’re responsible for the death of many of our precious marine animals. Plastic ingestion or entanglement kills a whopping one million seabirds and more than 100,000 mammals every single year. Continue reading

Eco design in the beauty industry

RooCreate labels

The latest beauty trend is nothing you have seen before. It doesn’t involve a new colour palette, a bold lipstick or a rejuvenating face mask, but rather all about eco design. Beauty has rarely focused on sustainability issues with either product ingredients or packaging. However, with a growing demand for eco design and beauty, companies have discovered the benefits of becoming eco-friendly, and brands are jumping on board.

Eco design on the rise

The use of plastic is the main culprit in the industry. Most of the products you see in stores are wrapped in plastics, tubes and bottles made from plastic, and quickly thrown in the trash once used up. A bottle you might use for 6 months will then take 1000 years to break down!  (http://www.postconsumers.com/2011/10/31/how-long-does-it-take-a-plastic-bottle-to-biodegrade/).

Recently, Estee Lauder set up guidelines to implement sustainable packaging across some of their most popular brands. The company believes that eco design throughout their packaging can meet the requirements of design and usability, and that this shift in material is not a hindrance, but an opportunity of responsibility. (https://www.elcompanies.com/our-commitments/sustainability/product-and-packaging-innovation#packaging-design)

Making a difference

With a surge of “green” beauty brands coming on the market, there is a clear indication that the public likes what they see, and believe in the sustainability that they purchase. Not only is this a great factor for boosting sales, but also the public’s impression of the brand itself. Consumers care about the planet more than ever, which makes it the perfect time for brands to make a difference.

At RooCreate, we can help your beauty products reach the market in a sustainable and progressive matter, addressing environmental issues whilst giving the public what they want.


https://www.allure.com/story/eco-friendly-beauty-packaging-trend-2017 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/fashion/25skin.html