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Why Choose rPET (Recycled PET Plastic) Cups Over PLA (Plant Based Cups)

In today's environmentally conscious world, finding sustainable alternatives to traditional plastic products is of utmost importance. One area where significant progress has been made is in the realm of beverage cups. Two popular options that have gained attention are rPET (Recycled PET Plastic) cups and PLA (Plant Based) cups. These eco-friendly alternatives offer a promising solution to reduce the environmental impact of single-use cups. In this article, we will explore the reasons why rPET cups outshine PLA cups.

What is rPET? 

rPET, which stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, is a type of plastic material commonly used in the production of food containers. It is derived from polymer chains and is known as PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). However, the "r" in rPET signifies that it is produced using recycled PET post-consumer plastic containers or bottles. The remarkable aspect of rPET is that it is the most recycled plastic globally, with Canada and the US alone recovering over 2 billion pounds of used PET containers annually. By utilizing rPET, such as in the creation of EnviroCup, we contribute to sustainable practices and environmental preservation.

What is PLA?

PLA, short for polylactic acid, is a biopolymer material commonly derived from plant sources such as corn starch. It can be transformed into containers that exhibit properties and transparency similar to traditional plastic. PLA is widely promoted as an eco-friendly alternative due to its distinctive characteristics and composition.

The production of PLA involves utilizing renewable resources, primarily corn, which can be grown repeatedly without depleting valuable Earth resources. PLA is also compostable, meaning it can break down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass (soil) within composting facilities. This complete disintegration of PLA leaves no toxic residue and supports plant growth in the soil, further enhancing its environmentally friendly profile.

Topics to ConsiderrPETPLA
Natural ResourcesVirgin PET is made from the extraction of petroleum reserves. However, rPET is made from post-consumer PET, eliminating the need for extracting new natural resources. rPET is 100% recyclable and can be reintroduced into the loop, reducing the need for resource extraction.PLA is derived from renewable plant sources, typically corn. While corn can regrow continuously, industrial agriculture for PLA production requires deforestation, water use, and land use change, which have adverse effects on the climate. Additionally, GMO corn and toxic pesticides used in its cultivation have negative impacts on human health and the climate.
Energy EfficiencyThe use of rPET significantly reduces carbon footprint by eliminating the energy required for extracting and creating new raw plastic material. The process of sorting, washing, and flaking post-consumer PET to make rPET requires 75% less energy than creating raw plastic.PLA cups require a significant amount of energy and water due to large-scale industrial agriculture. PLA cups cannot be recycled like rPET, resulting in more energy consumption in their production. However, compared to "traditional" virgin plastics, PLA production uses 65% less energy.
Structural IntegrityrPET cups can withstand high heat without deforming and have a shatter-resistant and clear finish.PLA cups melt at lower heat capacities compared to rPET cups and are more prone to deformation. However, they still maintain shatter resistance, albeit with a cloudy finish.
CulturerPET encourages the adoption of reuse and recycling habits, promoting a sustainable cultural shift in society.PLA promotes a littering culture since it takes months to "biodegrade" without the help of a composting facility. If left in the environment, PLA has adverse impacts and can take six or more months to biodegrade.
CostrPET production costs are similar to those of virgin PET but with a significantly lower carbon footprint since the end material does not need to be made from raw inputs.PLA production costs are much higher than raw PET and rPET.
Material BarrierPET has strong chemical properties that prevent the leakage of microorganisms and chemicals, making it suitable for long shelf-life products, including cosmetics.PLA has a less resistant barrier to microorganisms and chemicals compared to typical PET, making it suitable mainly for short shelf-life products. This promotes a consumerism culture.
Reduction of WasterPET reduces plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. By using existing material, rPET gives it a second life, avoiding the need for producing new raw materials that cannot be recycled.PLA cannot be properly recycled and ends up either in landfills or specialized composting facilities. It takes several months to compost in these facilities, and there is a lack of sufficient facilities worldwide for large-scale PLA production. Large-scale production and use of PLA would require extensive construction of composting facilities, consuming valuable energy.
IntegrationR Planet Earth's rPET products are vertically integrated, performing all procedures under one roof. This eliminates CO2-emitting transportation of raw materials and reduces adverse environmental impacts.Many companies producing PLA products do not have control over the industrial agriculture fields or composting facilities involved in their production. This leads to increased transportation of corn products and waste, resulting in higher CO2 emissions.

Why Choose rPET (Recycled PET Plastic) Cups Over PLA (Plant Based Cups)


The comparison between rPET (recycled PET plastic) cups and PLA (plant-based) cups reveals several key points. rPET cups offer advantages such as reduced carbon footprint, high structural integrity, recyclability, and cost-effectiveness. They promote waste reduction by reusing existing materials and have strong chemical properties that prevent leakage. On the other hand, PLA cups have limitations in terms of heat resistance, recycling capabilities, and higher production costs. Considering these factors, rPET cups emerge as a sustainable and practical choice for beverage containers.

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