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Material Health & Safety

All plastics are made by joining together simple building blocks into long chains. Today, we use plants to capture and sequester CO2 transforming it into long-chain sugar molecules. We ferment those sugars to make lactic acid, a natural product that’s present in yogurt and that build up in our muscles after some hard exercise. This lactic acid is the building block for the all the Ingeo (PLA) biomaterials we produce.

One of the key attributes of Ingeo is that the lactic acid building block exists in “left hand” and “right hand” versions (molecules that are mirror images of each other). By varying how we blend these, we can alter the physical properties of the grades we sell enormously, while still using only lactic acid. This is a fundamentally different approach than some existing plastics that must use other additives such as plasticizers to adjust their properties for different end uses. We can make anything from cups to coffee capsules to baby wipes all without adding BPA, phthalates, PFAS, or any other chemicals of concern.

While the concerns around plastics, toxicology, and human health are very real, we employ multiple methods noted below for testing and certifying that Ingeo biomaterials are safe. Where we partner with the supply chain to develop finished goods, our stewardship extends ensuring additional testing for safety on these products.


Toxicity and Testing

C2C Material Health Certificate

We don't ask our customers to take only our word for safety – we have it vetted by independent, 3rd parties like the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute which awarded Ingeo biomaterials a Gold level Material Health Certificate in 2018.

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global Food contact Compliance

When used as a food packaging material, Ingeo is fully compliant with long-standing global legislation for food contact requirements including both in the US and EU. A list of Ingeo PLA grades that comply with food contact requirements can be found here on our website under Regulatory Affairs.

Wipes Toxicology Study

Hygiene wipes made with Ingeo (PLA) biomaterials underwent toxicology testing to determine if Ingeo wipes caused any skin or eye irritation and / or induced cytotoxicity. The results were negative showing Ingeo nonwovens to be safe in hygiene applications. For more information, read the complete Ingeo Wipes Toxicology Study and Regulatory Information.

Compost Safety testing

Composting is a method of waste disposal that allows organic materials to be recycled into a product that can be used as a valuable soil amendment. Just like citrus peels and meat scraps, Ingeo is best suited for industrial-based composting systems which regulate temperature, moisture, and aeration.

Ingeo biomaterials have carried compost certification since development. A compost certification accounts for all steps in the composting process and specifically includes testing for toxicity of the final compost.

  1. Disintegration (less than 90% of fragments must be less than 2mm in size),
  2. Mineralization/Aerobic Biodegradation (minimum of 90% conversion to carbon dioxide)
  3. Safety of the Final Compost which tests for ecotoxicity and heavy metals

Ingeo grades that have compost certification have passed this toxicity testing.

Compliance of resin like Ingeo is the starting point, and compliance must be established at each level of the supply chain (film, article, etc), building on the upstream suppliers' testing and certification. For more information see our Regulatory Affairs page.

Product Safety & Toxicity

This Product Safety & Toxicity Summary addresses our product safety and a recent 2019 study with preliminary results found to be inconsistent and misleading in its conclusions. We offer key observations of the study and references.

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