Cups from corn quench thirsts here and abroad

What do Alken-Maes Breweries in Belgium, Tipperary Natural Mineral Water in Ireland, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, and the National Mall in Washington have in common?

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All are quenching the thirsts of customers or visitors with beverages served in drinking cups made from NatureWorks™ PLC, a corn-based material from Cargill Dow LLC.

Waarloosveld, Belgium-based Alken-Maes reportedly served about 1.5 million beers in PLA cups (shown) across Belgium last month, becoming the first Belgian brewer to use the material, which is made into cups by Huhtamaki. “While the cups look and handle like traditional plastic cups, PLA is a more sustainable material that will fully degrade in municipal composting facilities,” says brewery spokesperson An Steylemans. “This is a benefit for us and festival organizers, as it eliminates the expense and inconvenience associated with returnable polycarbonate cups, which are commonly used at large events and venues.”

Tipperary Natural Mineral Water of Borrisoleigh, Ireland began initial deliveries of 500ꯠ cups in August to stock its water coolers. The company anticipates replacing its entire water cooler service of 30 million single-use cups per year with cups made of PLA. “We have continually sought an environmentally sound disposable cup,” says Alfie Harnett, general manager of the company’s Water Cooler Division. “This product is revolutionary and is a positive step forward for disposable packaging.”

Throughout this summer, cold lemonade was served in cups made from PLA at the National Mall in Washington, making their debut during the opening of the World War II Memorial May 29. Ron Hallagan, vp of operations for Guest Services, Inc., the company that manages National Mall concessions, says, “Guest Services is proactive in its efforts to protect the environment, and this cup is a welcome addition.”

In June, an estimated 41ꯠ meals were served with cups, plates, and utensils made from NatureWorks PLA during the four-day Telluride Bluegrass Festival. “Substituting petroleum-based plastic for corn-based PLA made a huge impression on our guests, and a beneficial impact on the environment,” says Steve Szymanski of Planet Bluegrass, the event organizer.

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