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FAQ

General enquiries

Paper cups & bowls

  • Is your paper sourced from managed plantations?

    All our paper is sourced from managed plantations. Paper is sourced from the following suppliers: Stora Enso, WestRock or Clearwater Paper. Each of these companies, like us, are committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

  • Where are your cups made?

    Our paper BioCups are made in our production facility in Taiwan. The factory is the third largest cup producer outside of the USA. The factory produces in excess of 170 million cups every month.

  • Can BioCups & Lids be composted?

    Yes, BioCups and our bioplastic lids can be composted in commercial compost facilities where they will completely biodegrade within 120 days.

    Many customers have successfully composted BioCups in their home compost and worm farms. 

    Across Australia and New Zealand, there is limited access to compost facilities, so the preferred end-of-life option, for now, is placing the cups in the paper and cardboard recycling in the absence of wide-scale commercial composting.

  • Are BioCups & Lids recyclable?

    Our hot and cold paper BioCups are coated with a plant-based bioplastic, and they are recyclable in the paper waste in most council collections in Australia and New Zealand. So rinse your cups, flatten them and pop in your nearest paper recycling bin!

  • What happens to BioCups in landfill?

    Many people believe that landfills are just big, carefully controlled compost piles. They are not! In compost piles, the garbage is chopped, kept moist and stirred. No one chops garbage in a landfill and no one adds fluids – it’s usually illegal. And no one has figured out a way to stir it. The result is very little biodegradation. Modern landfills are designed to entomb municipal garbage. They are not, nor for safety’s sake should they be, biological reactors, which promote decomposition.

    Fact: When paper products (including BioCups) are disposed of to landfill rather than recycled, they can take as long as 40 years to biodegrade and when they do they release methane gas. Methane is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming with a lifespan 21 times longer than carbon dioxide. On average, every year each Australian throws out 330kg of paper. Waste recycling or reuse activity is important in reducing the impact of human waste on the environment. The more items that are reused and recycled, the less space is needed for landfill and the fewer emissions generated.

    Our BioCups are designed to be recycled in kerbside paper waste recycling and the PLA bioplastic lining means they can also be composted. Well managed home composts will do the trick, but the best conditions are in a commercial compost. We understand many of our BioCups will end up in the landfill, so we calculate and offset the carbon emissions associated with landfill disposal of all the BioCups we produce. In fact, we do this for all of our products. BioPak is a carbon neutral business.

  • Minimum orders for custom BioCups?

    Our minimum print quantity for custom BioCups is 50,000 cups per size. We offer storage for up to three months and our pay-as-you-use model means no upfront costs – simply order and pay when you need it. There is no deposit required and we provide a free artwork design service.

  • Can I order a specific BioCup Art Cup?

    Our BioCup Art Series offers three different artworks per size, supplied in mixed cartons, and these artists will change every three months. Unfortunately, we can not send you specific art cups. If you would like to run a custom cup with your prefered artist, please feel free to contact the artists through our curator Kate Armstrong – hello@okyo.com.au.

    Click here to read about our custom printing service.

  • What BioCup Art Cups will I get?

    We change the series every three months. We do our best to run down old stock so you get the new series at the release date, but please understand this can not be guaranteed.

Bioplastic cups, bowls & cutlery

  • What is bioplastic?

    A bioplastic is a substance made from organic biomass sources, unlike conventional plastics, which are made from petroleum. Bioplastics are made through a number of different resources such as vegetable oils, cellulose, starches, carbohydrates, acids and alcohols.

    Almost all bioplastics produce less CO2 and their overall environmental impact is typically lower than that of conventional plastics.

    Some biodegradable bioplastics can break down in 180 days, given the right conditions. Others are not biodegradable at all.

  • Why is bioplastic packaging better?

    BioPak's bioplastic packaging is better than conventional plastic packaging as it helps reduce the dependency on limited fossil resources, which are expected to become significantly more expensive in the coming decades. Fossil resources are being gradually substituted with renewable resources. Bioplastic is predominantly manufactured using annual crops, such as corn and sugar beet, or perennial cultures such as cassava and sugarcane.

    Biobased plastics also possess the unique potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or even be carbon neutral. Plants absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide as they grow. Using this biomass to create bio-based packaging products constitutes a temporary removal of greenhouse gases (CO2) from the atmosphere. This carbon fixation can be extended for a period if the material is recycled.

    Another major benefit offered by bio-based food packaging is that they can ‘close the cycle’ and increase resource efficiency. This potential can be exploited most effectively by establishing ‘use cascades’. 'Use cascades" are where renewable resources are firstly used to produce materials and products before being used for energy recovery. This means either using renewable resources for bioplastic products, mechanically recycling these products several times and recovering their renewable energy at the end of their product life; or using renewable resources for bioplastic products, organically recycling them (composting) at the end of a product’s lifecycle and creating valuable biomass/humus during the process. This resulting new product facilitates plant growth thus closing the cycle.

    Furthermore, packaging that is biobased and compostable can help to divert biowaste from landfill and increase waste management efficiency. All in all, bio-based packaging can raise resource efficiency to its (current) best potential.

  • Do bioplastics use agricultural resources?

    Yes, bioplastics are made from plant-starch by-products of the agricultural industry. Plants absorb carbon dioxide during their growth and convert it into carbon-rich organic matter. When these materials are used in the production of bioplastics, the carbon is stored within the products during their useful life. This carbon is then released back into the atmosphere (e.g. through energy recovery or composting). 

    Production of bioplastic has little to no effect on food prices or supply. In 2013 the global production capacities for bioplastics amounted to around 1.6 million tonnes. This translates into approximately 600,000 hectares of land. The surface area required to grow sufficient feedstock for today’s bioplastic production is therefore about 0.01% of the global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares. This ratio correlates with the size of an average cherry tomato next to the Eiffel Tower (based on market data by EUBP/IfBB/nova-Institute, 2014).

    Assuming continued high – and maybe even politically supported – growth in the bioplastics market, at the current stage of technological development, a market of around 6.7 million tonnes accounting for about 1.3 million hectares could be achieved by the year 2018. This market equates to approximately 0.02% of the global agricultural area.

    There are also many opportunities – including using an increased share of food residues, non-food crops or cellulosic biomass – that could lead to even less land use demand for bioplastics than the amount given above.

  • Are GMO crops used for bioplastics?

    The use of GMO crops is not a technical requirement for the manufacturing of any bioplastic commercially available today. If GM crops are used, the reasons lie in the economic or regional feedstock supply situation. If GM crops are used in bioplastic production, the multi-stage processing and high heat used to create the polymer remove all traces of genetic material. This means that the final bioplastic product contains no genetic traces. The resulting bioplastic is therefore well suited to use in food packaging as it contains no genetically modified material and cannot interact with the contents. 

  • Are bioplastics edible?

    Bioplastics can be used for packaging, service ware, automotive parts, electronic consumer goods and many more applications where conventional plastics are used. Plastic items should not be ingested – be they made from bioplastics or not. Bioplastics used for packaging of food and beverages are approved for food contact, but are not suitable for human consumption.

  • Is Bisphenol A used in bioplastics?

    All BioPak products are BPA free. We are committed to avoiding the use of harmful substances in our products.

  • Can bioplastics be composted?

    Yes, our bioplastic products can be commercially composted. They are unlikely to compost in home composts as they need the controlled conditions (humidity, aeration, temperature) of aerobic composting for quick and safe compost production.

    During the process, the organic matter, including biodegradable and compostable plastic products, are converted to CO2, water and biomass. Biodegradable and compostable plastics can only play a minor role in the biowaste stream. Organic food and plant matter still form the most considerable part of the compost's 'diet'. The resulting compost is used as a soil improver and can partly replace mineral fertilisers. 

    Very short composting cycles may not be sufficient to enable a full disintegration. However, leftover scraps (usually lignocellulosics) in composting plants are sifted out and added to the next fresh compost batch where they fully disintegrate and biodegrade into compost. The same is expected of plastic residues in case of incomplete disintegration during the first cycle. 

    Bioplastics do not decrease the quality of the compost created. All BioPak's compostable products have been certified to EN 13432 or EN 14995 standard for composting in industrial composting plants. They are thoroughly tested (inks, glues etc.) and approved for acceptance in average commercial composts. This includes an eco-toxicity test (an agronomic test), during which the compost's effect on plant growth is examined.

  • Can bioplastics be recycled?

    If a separate recycling stream for a certain plastic/bioplastic type exists, the bioplastic can be easily recycled alongside its conventional counterparts (e.g. bio-based PE in the PE-stream or bio-based PET in the PET stream).

    The post consumer recycling of bioplastics for which no separate stream yet exists, will be feasible, as soon as the commercial volumes and sales increase sufficiently to cover the investments required. New separate streams (that separate and recycle bioplastics) will be introduced in the short to medium term.

    Bioplastics do not contaminate non-bioplastic recycling waste streams. Currently plastic recycling has a very sophisticated sorting and treatment procedure and the bioplastics are highly unlikely to get mixed up.

  • What if I throw bioplastics into the bin?

    Our bioplastic products are designed to return to the soil through composting. If thrown into the bin they will end up in a landfill. Bioplastic does not biodegrade in landfill conditions. However, it is still environmentally better than plastic, as the CO2 absorbed during the growth phase of the plant is stored and locked up in the material. 

  • What is the bioplastic shelf life?

    Our clear cups, bowls and cutlery have a 6-12 month shelf life at least and must be stored below 35ºC. Do not store in direct sunlight, near heat sources or heaters. Our bioplastic bags have a 6-month shelf life from purchase and must be stored out of direct sunlight and below 35ºC.

Sugarcane pulp tableware & takeaways

  • What is sugarcane pulp?

    Sugarcane pulp is made from the crushed stalks remaining after the juice is extracted from sugarcane. It is a compostable, rapidly renewable and biodegradable resource. Our sugarcane pulp products are made by pressing the pulp at high pressure and temperatures into a molded form. It is sterilised and sanitised and conforms to FDA administration guidelines. We use sugarcane pulp (bagasse) for our range of clamshells, takeaway containers, plates, bowls and trays. We prefer sugarcane pulp to paper as the raw material is fast growing and rapidly renewable.

  • What are the sugarcane pulp benefits?

    There are many benefits of using sugarcane pulp packaging product. Using sugarcane pulp as a raw material protects forests.  While 5 tons of wood are needed to produce 1 ton of pulp for paper, only 1.5 tons of sugarcane pulp are needed to produce the same amount. Sugarcane pulp packaging production requires fewer toxic chemicals. Agricultural crops are easier to turn into pulp than wood is, and consequently, they require smaller quantities of toxic solvents to turn them into pulp for paper-making
    Importantly this is a rapidly renewable resource and sustainable – unlike paper or card from virgin forests, which are endangered by human harvesting. Agricultural waste will be readily available as long as humanity engages in agriculture. Agricultural waste like sugarcane pulp can make a side-trip from the cycle of life to serve as paper, then re-enter the cycle as compost to nourish new crops.
    In addition to the environmental benefits, we use sugarcane pulp for our packaging because it functions so well for food service – our products are sturdy and strong, microwave and freezer safe, can handle hot liquids up to 120 Degrees Centigrade and they are non-allergenic and gluten-free.

  • Can sugarcane pulp handle heat?

    BioPak's sugarcane tableware will handle hot food and beverages up to 120 Degrees Centigrade. They are microwave and freezer safe, have a high resistance to grease and are water resistant. Unlike paper or plastic containers, our BioCane Takeaways are oven-safe up to 220 Degrees Centigrade. However, the tableware does 'sweat' with hot foods, and some condensation will form at the bottom of the tableware with hot foods.

  • Can sugarcane takeaways seal liquid?

    Yes! We have a plastic-free and tree-free takeaway container that works. Our BioCane Takeaways have a perfect seal and are freezer, microwave and oven safe. They can be heated in the microwave and oven up to 220 Degree Centigrade. So you can now make ready-to-serve meals off-site, freeze them for transport and reheat in the oven for serving.

  • Are sugarcane takeaways oven safe?

    Yes! We have a plastic-free and tree-free takeaway container that works. Our BioCane Takeaways have a perfect seal and are freezer, microwave and oven safe. They can be heated in the microwave and oven up to 220 Degree Centigrade. So you can now make ready-to-serve meals off-site, freeze them for transport and reheat in the oven for serving.

  • Can sugarcane pulp be composted?

    Yes, our sugarcane pulp products will biodegrade in any compost environment. The rate of decomposition depends on the composting conditions – the temperature, turnover rate, moisture, etc. Just like other compostable material, products will biodegrade much faster if they are broken into smaller pieces. Sugarcane pulp will biodegrade at the same rate as other fibrous garden waste in a home composting system. They will biodegrade within 120 days in a commercial composting facility.

  • Can sugarcane pulp be recycled?

    Yes. Our sugarcane products can be recycled along with the mainstream paper and cardboard recycling if it is not too contaminated with food residue.

Composting vs. biodegradable

  • Compostable vs. biodegradable

    Biodegradation is nature's way of recycling wastes, or breaking down organic matter into nutrients that can be used by other organisms. 'Degradation' means decay, and the 'bio-' prefix means that the decay is carried out by a huge assortment of bacteria, fungi, insects, worms and other organisms that eat dead material and recycle it into new forms.

    In nature, there is no waste because everything gets recycled. The waste products from one organism become the food for others, providing nutrients and energy while breaking down the waste organic matter. Some organic materials will break down much faster than others, but all will eventually decay.

    By harnessing these natural forces of biodegradation, people can reduce waste and clean up some types of environmental contaminants. Through composting, we accelerate natural biodegradation and convert organic wastes to a valuable resource.

  • What is commercial composting?

    Commercial or industrial composting is an established process with commonly agreed requirements concerning temperature and time frame for transforming biodegradable waste into stable, sanitised products to be used in agriculture. This process takes place in industrial or municipal composting plants. The criteria for the industrial compostability of packaging are set out in EN 13432. Materials and products complying with this standard can be certified and labelled accordingly.

    There is currently no common European standard for home composting. Regulations, national standards, or certification programmes can be found in Italy (UNI 11183), Belgium (Vinçotte, OK compost home label) and the United Kingdom (European Bioplastics).

  • What are the advantages?

    Using biodegradable and compostable plastic products such as (biowaste) bags and packaging or cutlery, increases end-of-life options. In addition to recovering energy and mechanical recycling, composting (organic recovery / organic recycling) becomes an available waste management option.

    This appears to be of particular benefit when plastic items are mixed with biowaste. Under these conditions, mechanical recycling is not feasible for either plastics or biowaste. The use of compostable plastics makes the mixed waste suitable for organic recycling, enabling the shift from recovery to recycling. An increased amount of biowaste is collected and then used to create valuable compost.