plastic used in consumer cups
Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt company,
introduced the first yogurt cup made from plants. Beginning in
October, every Stonyfield Farm multipack yogurt cup, including
YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKids (as well as B-Healthy, B-Well, Probiotic & O’Soy),
will be made from plant-based plastic. The new cup slashes carbon
emissions by nearly half (48 percent) and places Stonyfield on
the front lines of the growing sustainable packaging industry,
a field expected to reach $142 billion by 2015.
Stonyfield made the packaging change with no increase in price
on any of its multipacks. The new cups look and feel just like
the petroleum-based polystyrene cups they replace, the only difference
is the new “Made From Plants” stamp on the bottom.
Stonyfield’s new plant-based cup is made from 93 percent polylactic
acid, which at this time is made from corn. Within five years,
the United States Department of Energy predicts that non-food
plants will be viable alternatives. Until that time, Stonyfield
uses an offset program to produce a sustainably grown amount
of corn equal to the amount used for the cups. Thus, by taking
an equivalent amount of genetically modified organism (GMO) corn
out of production, Stonyfield is not supporting GMOs.
Like the polystyrene plastic packaging it is replacing, the new
plant-based cup is not recyclable in most communities due to
lack of recycling infrastructure. As demand increases, this will
improve but, for now, Stonyfield’s new multipack cups should
be placed with the non-recyclables. Currently there are only
two facilities that can process the material from recycling centers.
As more plant-based plastics begin to be used by manufacturers,
recycling centers will have enough demand to add recycling systems
for plant-based plastic, and the ability to process the material
Nancy Hirshberg, Stonyfield’s vice president of natural resources
explained, “Even without a recycling option in the early stages,
plant-based plastic is already better for the planet than polystyrene
because it produces lower carbon emissions and requires less
fossil fuel to make. As this new type of plastic becomes more
commonplace, the potential environmental benefits only get better.”
To demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, Stonyfield is
open-sourcing everything the company has learned about plant-based
plastic so that other companies can give consumers what they
really want – packaging that allows them to have their food and
their planet, too.