What You Should Know About Paper Plate Materials?

PLA, cornstarch, bagasse, wood fiber, bamboo fiber, palm leave are the most commonpaper paper plate materials. They are frequently used in the biodegradable disposable food packaging industry. These include paper plates, takeout food containers, cosmetic packaging, and related products.

Which paper plate materials are most popular with consumers and best for your business? As a paper plate manufacturer that has been in the industry for ten years, we will review the following topics:

The degrees of biodegradation

Waterproof and oil discharge performance

Can it be heated in the microwave?

Whether you are an individual buyer, wholesaler, retailer, or brand, I hope this article will help you understand the differences and advantages of different paper plate materials.

Biodegradable Plastic

Synthetic plastics used in the paper plates manufacturing include PLA, PBAT, PHB, PBS, and PBT. This article will cover PLA, which is the most widely used material.

What is the PLA? PLA, also known as lactic acid bacteria, is a new biodegradable material produced from starch raw materials derived from renewable plant resources.

These materials go through saccharification to obtain glucose, which ferments the materials into high-purity lactic acid. A specified molecular weight of PLA is synthesized through chemical synthesis to complete the process.

PLA degradable tableware usually refers to the product that combines PLA composite film with pulp molded.

The PLA plate produced by the laminating process can better seal the stomata of the pulp molding products, allowing the original product to prevent alcohol leakage. After sealing the air hole, this tableware actively reduces the product’s air permeability while increasing its heat preservation performance and time.

As a bioplastic, PLA compost needs to meet the following conditions:

  1. A high number of microbes used during production.
  2. At high temperatures, microorganisms must only degrade the PLA when the temperature exceeds 30℃.
  3. In humid environments, higher humidity must increase the efficiency of hydrolysis.

Unfortunately, these conditions do not always exist. Most PLAs and CPLAs produced by manufacturers are not compostable, and this biodegradable tableware commonly ends up in landfills over the long term.

Is it completely compostable? No
Waterproof and oil discharge performance: ★★★★★
Can it be heated in the microwave? No

Corn Starch

Vegetable starch is also used by major biodegradable tableware manufacturers to produce paper plates.

Corn starch plastics are most common and are popular as an alternative to traditional plastics because they are more eco-friendly. Potato starch is also a common starch used in the production of paper plates..

While corn starch tableware is created through the biodegradation of starch and the physical properties of the material’s collapse, petroleum-based PP is not biodegradable.

Depending on the composition of the meal box, the degradation rate of cornstarch paper plates can reach 60-80 percent,, which is not considered complete degradation.

Is it completely compostable? No
Waterproof and oil discharge performance: ★★★★
Can it be heated in the microwave? Yes

Compostable Paper Plate Materials: Bagasse

Bagasse is a natural paper plate material extracted from sugarcane by pressing. Unlike traditional PLA and CPLA, bagasse is the most popular raw material used to produce paper plates on the market.

Bagasse plates are 100% biodegradable and compostable, and a major competitor for less eco-friendly materials. For these reasons, many manufacturers use it to produce paper plates.

In the production of paper plates, sugarcane bagasse as raw material requires minimal process time. Besides its easy processing, it is also fully compostable. A sugarcane paper plate without PP material can be heated in a microwave oven using the wet pressing process of paper pulp molding. The paper plate can only handle a limited amount of food-grade, water-repellent, or oil-repellent materials during heating.

Sugarcane plates are zero-waste and 100% compostable, it is both affordable and eco-friendly.

Is it completely compostable? Yes
Waterproof and oil discharge performance: ★★★★
Can it be heated in the microwave? Yes

100% sugarcane raw materials

What are Advantages of Bagasse Plates? Click to know details.

Bamboo fiber

Bamboo fiber is typically produced from bamboo and its regularly shed sheath. As the bamboo grows, its sheaths fall off, and workers collect and sell them to paper plate factories and manufacturers.

However, bamboo sheaths limit the capacity of paper plates when produced. Most of the raw material for bamboo fiber paper plates comes from living bamboo, which leads large quantities of bamboo to be cut down.

Since it takes three to five years for a bamboo plant to mature, this production method can significantly impact the environment and may not be as effective as other methods.

Moreover, the master fiber in these plates must be molded by adding melamine or other adhesives. Melamine is a formaldehyde synthetic resin. Excessive amounts have the adverse effect of causing cancer in consumers. Additionally, melamine is not heat resistant, meaning it can’t be heated in a microwave

For the vast majority of paper plate manufacturers, melamine is more cost-effective.

There are small amounts of melamine in many bamboo fiber paper plates. While representatives mention that their paper plates are within the risk range, the risk of harm from heating these paper plates with food has significantly increased food safety concerns.

Therefore, although bamboo fiber is a compostable paper plate raw material, it has a limited market share and has received little consumer recognition.

Some countries, specifically Europe, have explicitly advised against using products such as bamboo utensils in microwave ovens.

Is it completely compostable? No
Waterproof and oil discharge performance: ★★★★
Can it be heated in the microwave? Yes

Wood fiber

Wood fiber, mainly derived from trees, is similar to bamboo fiber and makes for an excellent compostable paper plate material. However, wood fiber paper tableware has long been controversial concerning environmental protection.

Like bamboo fiber, wood fiber takes several years to grow and can be used to produce paper plates, paper bowls, and other disposable compostable tableware.

According to a survey, old wood accounts for less than 10 percent of  paper plates produced from wood. That means that 90 percent of wood and paper cutlery is made only by cutting down new trees, which negatively impacts the environment in the long term.

As for food safety, environmental protection, and consumers, wood fiber as paper plate material also faces numerous concerns and challenges.

Is it completely compostable? No
Waterproof and oil discharge performance: ★★★★
Can it be heated in the microwave? Yes

Palm leaf

Naturally falling palm leaves are another excellent compostable material used to produce several kinds of tableware, including paper plates.

Palm leaf paper plates are most common in India and Southeast Asia; palm trees typically grow in subtropical and tropical regions. After the leaves fall off, the workers collect and send them to the factory for production. Like straw, the process of palm leaf paper plate production is relatively simple.

Palm leaves fall off four to five times a year, making harvesting more eco-friendly than other methods. The process does not require cutting down living palms, making the entire process more sustainable in the long term. This process is similar to bamboo sheaths, but palm leaves yield much more in every harvest compared to bamboo sheaths. Paper plates and tableware produced from palm leaves are also rich in carbon and are easily composted and turned into nutrient-rich soil.

Is it completely compostable? Yes
Waterproof and oil discharge performance: ★★★★
Can it be heated in the microwave? Yes


The conclusion ased on the conventional process used by most paper plate manufacturers, different additives will affect the performance.

Paper plate materials Compostable Waterproof and oil discharge Heated in the microwave
PLA No ★★★★★ No
Corn starch No ★★★★ Yes
Bagasse Yes ★★★★★ Yes
Bamboo fiber No ★★★★ Yes
Wood fiber No ★★★★ Yes
Palm Leaf Yes ★★★★ Yes

The performance, price, compostability, and other aspects of paper plates produced from different raw materials are unique in many ways. PLA and other bioplastic tableware have become unpopular over time, allowing more eco-friendly materials to dominate the market.

Cornstarch and bagasse have become the most marketable paper plate materials, reaching peak demand for individual purchases and wholesale businesses alike.


We are specialized in biodegradable disposable tableware manufacturing from 2010. If any questions, please feel free to send to us, we will do our best to solve your problem.

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