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Home compostable PLA-coated cup fully compatible with paper cup recycling process

Develop a home compostable PLA-coated cup that is fully compatible with the paper cup recycling process for applications up to 100C.

Photo of Floris Buijzen
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Idea Title

Total Corbion PLA - home compostable cup

Idea Summary

Home compostable PLA-coated cup that is fully compatible with the paper cup recycling process that can withstand temperatures up to 100C. This is a solution for the fiber-based hot and cold cups.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Total Corbion PLA

Website (if applicable)

www.total-corbion.com

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

Our idea is to develop a home compostable PLA-lined fiber-based cup that is fully compatible with the paper recycling process and is able to withstand temperatures up to 100C.

PLA-lined fiber-based cups that are industrial compostable have been available commercially for a long time. In contrast to PE-lined fiber-based cups, the PLA liner is fully compatible with the paper recycling process. In recent years, there is more and more interest to have solutions available that not only biodegrade under industrial composting conditions, but also under home composting conditions. 

Our idea is to develop a PLA-lined fiber-based cup that is meeting the home compostability requirements and that is fully compatible with the paper recycling process. This would provide an additional end-of-life option (home composting) next to the incumbent recovery option of paper cup recycling. The idea is focused on the cup itself, but can be extended to develop a home compostable lid and straw so that the full cup is home compostable. In case an identical solution is used for the lid and the straw, these could even be included in the paper recycling process. 

PLA is produced from renewable raw materials and is 100% biobased. Our PLA is produced from sugar from Thai sugarcane. Sustainable sourcing of raw materials is at the core of our business. Our vision and approach can be found in the whitepaper on sustainable sourcing of feedstocks for bioplastics (https://www.total-corbion.com/media/1082/170822_totalcorbionpla_whitepaper_12-web.pdf). 

PLA is a polymer that is approved for food contact applications throughout the world. We as Total Corbion PLA have all the required certifications and documentation that demonstrate compliance with the most important regulations, including food contact, REACH, chemical compliance and dangerous chemicals listings. 

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup
  • Cup Lids
  • Cup Liner

How is your concept recoverable?

Our PLA-liner fiber-based cup is recoverable in two ways: - It is meeting the home composting requirements so the cups can be collected for organic recycling or composted at home (in case there are no local industrial composting facilities) - It is fully compatible with the paper recycling process. The PLA liner does not interfere with this process, in contrast to the PE liner that is currently used. The preferred end-of-life would be the paper recycling process. As there can be regional differences in the extent to which this is being applied, our solution provides an alternative end-of-life option that is available all over the world.

How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?

- Total Corbion PLA has published a whitepaper on Sustainable sourcing of feedstocks for Bioplastics (https://www.total-corbion.com/media/1082/170822_totalcorbionpla_whitepaper_12-web.pdf). - We are the first bioplastic producer to obtain Bonsucro chain-of-custody certification for our PLA. - Our PLA is 100% biobased (certified according to EN 16785-1).

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

We are active on a global level and are working with converters all over the world. Our production location is in Thailand, but we have warehouses in Europe and the US which enables us to supply to all major countries in the world.

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

All users of fiber-based hot and cold cups are benefiting from our solution. We provide a drop-in solution with similar look-and-feel as the incumbent fiber-based hot and cold cup that is fully compatible with the paper recycling process. As the cups are home compostable, we provide an additional end-of-life option when there is no paper recycling infrastructure available or when the cups are disposed of outside of the restaurant environment.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Corporate Submission

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

Developing a PLA-based liner for a fiber-cup that is meeting both the home composting standard and is compatible with the paper recycling process. We and our partners have experience in this field but would need to spend R&D resources to make this happen.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Floris Buijzen is the product market manager for Total Corbion PLA, a 50/50 JV between Total and Corbion in the field of Polylactic acid. We have a lot of experience in developing PLA-based solutions.

In what city are you located?

Gorinchem

In what country are you located?

Netherlands

What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

B.V. (Ltd.)

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

We will use the funding provided to develop a formulation that is meeting the home composting requirements, that is compliant with the prevailing regulations and is able to withstand temperatures up to 100C for both hot and cold applications. Furthermore the program gives us direct exposure to two very large brand owners which will help a lot to commercialize the idea.

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • In the news

4 comments

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Comment
Photo of Koldun Victor
Team

An ordinary cardboard cup breaks down in the natural environment roughly in a year or thereabout. Approximately how the fallen leaves does, consisting of the same cellulose. In order for the new material for the production of cups to become a cost effective replacement of cardboard, it should decompose order faster, somewhere in a month, maybe two or three. This is at an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius (according to NASA). But when we pour water near a boiling point, at a temperature of 95 degrees, into such cup , according to the rule of Svante August Arrhenius, all the chemical processes in it, including the self-decay of complex molecules, respectively, accelerate. The minimum acceleration will be somewhere 250 times, and the maximum will be about 65,000 times. That is, for a disposable cup that has been filled for at least an hour, and this is a real situation somewhere on a picnic, there is all the chances to pour out their content on the table at best , at worst, on himself or his electronic devices. Even if this cup was made a few days before that and was stored in a stock in perfect conditions.
Therefore, the question arises - how do you deal with such issue?

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