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Ingeo™ Bio Plastic

Ingeo™ Bio Plastics

Our Ingeo products are the perfect choice for the environment and the eco-conscience consumer.  Ingeo™ biopolymer is NatureWorks' branded PLA.  PLA stands for polylactic acid, or Polylactide, a versatile, biodegradable, and compostable plastic.

The basic raw materials for Ingeo™ biopolymer are carbon dioxide and water.  Growing plants take these building blocks from the atmosphere and the soil, combining them to make carbohydrates (sucrose and starch) through a sunlight driven process called photosynthesis.

Today, NatureWorks LLC, the inventor of Ingeo™ uses dextrose, a natural sugar derived from the starch in kernels of corn (maize), as the primary raw material for Ingeo™ biopolymer.  Other agricultural raw materials such as rice, sugar beets, sugar cane, wheat and sweet potatoes can also serve as sugar sources to make Ingeo™ biopolymer.

The dextrose or corn (maize) used is known as “Number 2 Yellow Dent.”  This is the most common corn variety, with more than 80% of the crop grown in the United States to feed animals.  No. 2 Yellow Dent corn can also be used to make food products like dextrose and fructose (used as sweeteners in a wide range of food products).  No. 2 Yellow Dent is considered safe as a raw material for human food products.

After harvesting, the corn is transported to a corn wet mill (CWM) where the starch is separated from the other components of the corn kernel and converted into dextrose.  The dextrose is fermented into lactic acid and the lactic acid is then further processed into Ingeo™ polylactide pellets. 

At full capacity, the NatureWorks production facility in Blair, Nebraska (U.S.A.) will use 0.11% of the total corn for grain production in the USA — less than one fifth of one percent.

Ingeo™ natural plastic, made from NatureWorks’ biopolymer, is the world’s first polymer showing a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.  Ingeo™ environmentally outperforms every major petroleum based plastic.  For example, the process of manufacturing PET, the polymer most commonly used to make water and soda bottles and the mainstay of the synthetic fibers industry, emits 3.4 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of resin produced.  By contrast, the new Ingeo™ manufacturing process emits 77 percent less, with 0.75 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of resin.  The new Ingeo™ production technology also consumes 56 percent less energy than the equivalent weight of PET.1

In the future, the polymer could be made from other dominant, locally available crops.  Looking ahead, NatureWorks LLC is working to develop technologies to facilitate the use of lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks such as corn stover, wheat and rice straw and bagasse.  So today agricultural products are used, "tomorrow" the intention is to use agricultural waste streams.

Ingeo™ products come in a variety of product types; cold cups, portion cups, deli containers, and clamshell containers.  They are strong and durable, function well and great for cold items.