This month, Stonyfield Farm announced they will begin using PLA, a plant-based plastic, for all multipacks in the YoBaby, Yo Toddler, Yokids, B-Well, B-Healthy, Probiotic & O’Soy product lines. PLA (polylactic acid) is made from corn and will cut packaging GHG emissions by 48% and reduce their overall GHG emissions by 9%.
Although originally skeptical about using a plant-based material, Stonyfield did an intensive LCA analysis with Dr. Ronaly Geyer from UC Santa Barbara, that showed over the entire life cycle of the product, PLA is preferable to polystyrene. PLA can be made from a variety of sugary plants, including beets, sugar cane and tapioca. In the US, the only maker of PLA uses corn as its sugar source. New technologies are currently in development to make PLA from agricultural by-products or perennial plants that grow near prime agricultural land.