⭐️ Everything you need to know about cornstarch packaging before making the switch.

Sustainability efforts continue to be on the rise for all industries across the market. 

Businesses around the world continue to attempt to meet sustainable consumer demands, while still offering their products the high quality packaging they require. 

The restaurant industry in particular has seen a huge influx of sustainable packaging options to choose from.

From biodegradable packaging to recyclable packaging, the restaurant industry is starting to take big steps toward eco-friendly solutions. 

Here, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the most popular biodegradable packaging option, cornstarch packaging

If you haven’t already made the switch, here we lay out everything you need to know to take the leap toward more sustainable efforts! 

What is Cornstarch Packaging?

In a nutshell, cornstarch packaging is a biodegradable packaging material that can replace polystyrene (Styrofoam) and plastic. 

Available in both transparent and opaque material, it can be used in a variety of ways.

Currently, the most popular way to utilize cornstarch packaging is for take away food. 

This includes packaging options such as;

  • Trays
  • Lids
  • Bags
  • Plates
  • Containers

Unlike petroleum-based plastic, cornstarch packaging is biodegradable and renewable, making it an excellent choice for eco-friendly packaging material and plastic alternatives. 

How is Cornstarch Packaging Made?

Cornstarch packaging is part of a more significant movement of emerging bioplastics derived from agricultural waste or byproducts. 

Using corn starch, vegetable oil, fats, recycled food waste, and other materials, more companies are starting to create their own environmentally safe alternatives to plastics.

Cornstarch packaging is produced using polylactic acid (PLA) made by fermenting the plant sugar and starch.  

Cornstarch packaging uses the cheapest commercially available sugars, so there is no need to worry about overuse and limited supplies when producing custom cornstarch packaging.

The polymers are made from alkene that is then mixed with cornstarch to create packaging solutions like plates and take away containers.

There are an array of PLA grades to choose from. These include;

  • 2002D – used for thermoforming
  • 3051D – great for injection molding
  • 4032D – ideal for producing films
  • 6201D – used to produce staple fibre
  • 7000D – ideal for producing bottles

Moreover, the FDA has also approved PLA for use as a polymer, and it is regarded as 100% food safe.

The main characteristic of this kind of packaging is that it naturally degrades, leaving behind no negative environmental concerns or hazardous gases. 

Within months, cornstarch plastic can break down into just carbon dioxide and water, thereby helping to reduce the carbon footprint of both consumers and businesses. 

But, is it worth investing in? 

The Cornstarch Packaging Market 

Because there is now an exponential growth in the environmentally friendly movement, starch packaging materials and other bioplastics are gaining market share very quickly. 

According to Globe News Wire the biodegradable packaging market will reach a value of $126.85 billion USD by 2026. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately shifted company initiatives away from sustainability efforts and banning plastic due to concerns around transmitting the virus through cardboard and plastic surfaces. 

This shifted buying patterns as consumers opted for single use plastics in an attempt to stay healthy during the pandemic. 

However, with vaccination rates on the rise, consumers and businesses are now shifting their focus back to sustainability efforts. 

Example of biodegradable packaging
Source: Dribbble

Bio-based materials can have many environmental benefits over the course of time, and the fact that they are renewable can make them a suitable alternative to less eco-friendly options. 

As more companies pledge their commitment to the environment, identifying and scaling sustainable packaging options is crucial to product and business success.

But, what exactly are the benefits of cornstarch packaging for your business? 

The Advantages of Cornstarch Packaging

Using biodegradable packaging material offers companies many benefits, especially as a replacement for conventional plastics. 

The main advantage of using cornstarch packaging is that it is renewable since corn is affordable and readily available for use. 

There is no scarcity of resources, making it easier to utilize this kind of packaging material effectively and in the long term.

Starch packaging materials are also, of course, 100% biodegradable, recyclable and compostable. 

This means that they have little negative impact on the environment and will degrade on it’s own and can be used in agricultural fertilizers, giving the packaging a life beyond products.  

There are no harmful toxins present in the material that could cause damage, making it that much safer to produce and for consumers to use. 

Example of biodegradable packaging
Source: Behance

Cornstarch is also effective as food packaging since it is 100% food-safe, has a high aroma barrier, and resistance to food fat and oils without the use of coatings or chemicals. 

Furthermore, cornstarch packaging has low flammability, and the material lends itself well to printing applications. 

This gives businesses the opportunity to brand their packaging without causing harm to the environment and offer a high quality customer experience. 

While these advantages seem exciting enough for you to make the switch, let’s take a look at some drawbacks to make sure you are well informed about your decision. 

The Drawbacks of Cornstarch Packaging

While cornstarch packaging has many benefits, it does have its drawbacks as well. 

Because cornstarch is so new as a packaging material, there is not much infrastructure to support it. 

While that may likely improve over time as it becomes more ubiquitous, using the packaging material currently poses some challenges. 

While the polymers in cornstarch packaging are compostable, there are not many facilities that can accommodate them. 

And because most customers will not compost the material properly and recycle it instead, it could lead to issues in the recycling stream down the line, making it a less sustainable product. 

Composting PLA in large quantities could cause issues, as doing so may make regular compost more acidic, posing a threat to the environmental impact. 

Unfortunately, most cornstarch packaging is likely to end up in landfills due to improper disposal. 

This may lead to more waste, which can be challenging because corn is a major food staple.

The only way to combat this issue is by raising awareness about this packaging material and the proper disposal process. 

This will prevent more packaging ending up in landfills and consumers will actually appreciate the initiative your business is taking to ensure the sustainability efforts of your brand. 

Why you Should Switch to Cornstarch Packaging

So now that you’ve seen all the benefits and drawbacks of cornstarch packaging, the ultimate question that comes up is: Is it worth switching to biodegradable packaging such as cornstarch? 

Yes, it is definitely worth it!

Cornstarch packaging material can have significant benefits for your business and the environment that can make this packaging solution worthwhile. 

It can help your business become more socially responsible, thereby attracting more eco-conscious shoppers focused on supporting eco-friendly businesses.

Example of cornstarch food packaging
Source: Dribbble

Consumers have become much more conscious of greenwashed packaging and products and are much more knowledgeable on materials in the industry. 

Using cornstarch packaging can help you market your brand more effectively and establish a more authentic connection with customers right from the start.

Using biodegradable packaging materials also positions you as an innovator in your field, which can prove to be beneficial for business. 

As more companies try to differentiate themselves from the rest, thinking outside the box and using new packaging innovations can help you retain market share with loyal customers. 

With impending bans on single-use plastics looming, switching to more sustainable options is fast becoming a necessity rather than a choice.

If you’re looking to create a unique experience for customers, consider your packaging materials. 

Using more environmentally friendly and innovative options such as cornstarch packaging materials or other biodegradable options, helps you stand out and highlights your commitment to sustainability efforts. 

As we continue to learn more about the fate of plastics, exploring biodegradable and sustainable packaging materials is vital to stand out as a brand in the long run. 

Brands continue to focus on improving their sustainability efforts and carbon footprint, and doing so does have a positive impact on other businesses and customers. 

By choosing better and more sustainable packaging, companies can now more effectively support changing customer needs while still providing a great experience.

Looking to learn more about your sustainable packaging options? Get in contact with our product specialists to discuss your options today!