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Home » Sustainable Business » Innovating for a better future: Cork business breaking new ground in sustainable packaging

Keith Synnott

Head of Commercial, Down2Earth Materials

Olan Hodnett

Marketing Manager, Down2Earth Materials

Learn about recycled PLA, a sustainable packaging option for businesses. Minimise fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions with a cost-effective, eco-friendly solution.

Whether it’s in the corner coffee shop or your local Centra, Down2Earth Materials’ products have likely been in your hands. The Cork family business was founded in 2009 and has since become Ireland’s leading sustainable foodservice packaging specialist.

Supplying sustainable food packaging

From coffee cups to deli containers, the company supplies products to some of the country’s most popular brands. Guaranteed Irish member Down2Earth Materials also has the highest level of certification in the market and prides itself on offering Irish customers a myriad of sustainable choices.

Recycled PLA: compostable bioplastic

The company’s success comes down to three important factors: (1) the quality of its products; (2) its commitment to sustainability; (3) and its determination to constantly innovate.
One of these latest modernisations the business is undertaking is the introduction of rPLA. Recycled PLA is derived from post-consumer waste and is a compostable bioplastic made from renewable sources like cornstarch or sugarcane.

Recycling PLA products cuts down virgin PLA production, which lowers fossil fuel use. The recycling process (involving sorting, cleaning and reprocessing) is less energy-intensive than initial production, leading to lower energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Recycling PLA products cuts down virgin
PLA production, which lowers fossil fuel use.

Cost-effective, sustainable rPLA option

This efficient use of resources — including land, water and energy — makes recycling PLA environmentally beneficial. Additionally, recycled PLA presents a cost-effective alternative to virgin PLA because the recycling process is more economical than extracting new raw materials.

With 20% recycled content, this means the compostable product line of cold cups, portion pots and deli containers represents a positive and unique offering in the Irish market. Being the first in Europe to carry rPLA, businesses using these products will make a more sustainable choice and achieve improved emissions targets.

Sustainability commitment despite challenges

Nevertheless, the industry faces challenges. Current EU packaging directives are leaving many manufacturers and businesses uncertain about their next steps. In Ireland, the company hopes for increased government support in correctly classifying compostable and recyclable products and implementing more three-bin systems on our streets.

However, despite the evolving landscape, Down2Earth Materials remains committed to its mission of creating sustainable options that benefit both enterprises and the environment. With plans to expand the team while consistently pioneering its products, maintaining high standards and educating customers, the company is poised for continued success.

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