Cargill Dow’s biodegradable Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) packaging material has taken its first step into large-scale commercial production with Italian supermarket chain Iper.

Veriplast International, presently the only company able to extrude the raw PLA, is supplying Iper with disposable packaging trays for fresh food and pasta products. The trays are sealed in store with PLA lidding film, providing a totally biodegradable package that will compost within 30 days.

The starch-based polymer is said to look and behave like clear plastics with the advantage of coming from a renewable resource. PLA has been criticised for being 2.5 times more expensive than PET. Veriplast, however, believes this application to be a promising step towards reducing costs through mainstream acceptance.

Veriplast is currently working with major UK and mainland European retailers to develop specific PLA products.