Coalition of recycling interests calls for moratorium on PLA

A group of recycling companies and research organizations has issued a call for an embargo on polylactic acid or PLA, a bio-based plastic developed by NatureWorks. The plastic resin is made from corn, and the company claims it is compostable, making it ideal for use in plastic serviceware, which is not usually recycled. But PLA is also being developed for other applications, like bottles. Members of the coalition are concerned that the material has not been sufficiently tested for recyclability and could be detrimental to the recycling systems designed for Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), the dominant plastic used in recyclable bottles.

“No recycling infrastructure exists for plastic cutlery, plates, and cups,” says Brenda Platt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in a press release about the coalition. “We want bio-based companies to focus on replacing nonrecyclable disposable plastic products such as polystyrene. Stay away from bottles, which have a well-established recycling system.”

Members of the coalition include Eco-Cycle (Colo.), Eureka Recycling (Minn.), Ecology Center (Calif.), the Plastic Redesign Project (multi-state), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (D.C.), the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry (Wis.) and the GrassRoots Recycling Network (Calif.).