Corn Packaging: The New Plastic Or Compostable!

I want to talk about something slightly different today – corn packaging while living with a corn allergy/intolerance. This is all the rage, to have a compostable option or be able to make plastic from a different source.

For people with a corn intolerance/allergy, sometimes going for the eco friendly option is not possible. Which can be frustrating. Personally, I want to buy those items. I want to help the environment any way I can. I don’t want to be contributing much to the items that live for eternity in a trash pile, taking thousands of years to break down.

But today, most compostable or eco friendly packaging items are made from corn. I’ve had a few too many experiences getting accidentally “corned” to want to buy the compostable packaging.

Corn Packaging

The reason I’m bringing this up now is because of lack of choice during the Coronavirus pandemic. Shops are low on stock, so I’ve been having to buy brands I normally wouldn’t.

I haven’t wanted to touch items in the store to look at the packaging. Which led me to try a new brand for spices: Mrs. Rogers Naturals. It’s a small company in New Zealand, and they do compostable packaging. I kept accidentally buying spices from the company, like cinnamon sticks.

Today I realized the salt I’ve been using is also in a home compostable bag….I was looking closer at the packaging, and discovered on the side it states the bag material is “majority derived from sustainably produced wood pulp & GM-free corn sources.” I had seen that information on the smaller spices, but I hadn’t expected it to be on the salt bag.

That explains my mysterious small reactions for the last month. It was the salt.

I want to talk about a few other compostable or bio products that are made from corn that I’ve had accidental experience with.

compostable packaging: made from corn

I’ve mentioned this in my college with a corn intolerance post, where I was constantly getting “corned” my first year of college. It took me a while to figure out what the problem was. And the answer was the containers my food was being put in were made from corn.

They were biodegradable, meant to withstand a few hours of food sitting in it, but the issue was food is wet heat. And wet heat meant the packaging was starting to degrade, and the corn from the packaging was then leaching into my food. Making me sick. That was a relief to figure out, but frustrating to have the issue in the first place.

Other Corn-Compostable Products

This list is some, not all, of the eco/compostable products I’ve seen made from corn that I try to avoid or have accidentally used.

  • Trash bags. I’ve tried using them a few times, because I’m only digestion sensitive, but they leaked with produce inside. I also had to wash my hands thoroughly after touching them to ensure I wasn’t getting corn contamination.
  • Toothbrushes. Some of the biodegradable toothbrushes are made not from bamboo, but corn, because corn can be modified more into a plastic feel. I don’t want that anywhere near my mouth.
  • Disposable utensils – i.e. spoon and fork. Some are made from bamboo, but there are some made from corn. I typically carry around a spork for emergencies instead of having to worry about corn.
  • Straws – the new paper straws, even if they are made from paper, the adhesive to hold it together is likely corn based.
  • Bags for flours or other packaged items – I was at the store and accidentally picked up a new bag of flour to trial, by a brand that I do okay with other products from. Getting home, I realized the packaging was compostable packaging, made from corn. It’s CeresOrganics.
compostable packaging - i.e. corn contaminated food

Corn Plastic

In general, corn is having more and more uses. Along with biodegradable packaging options, there is also corn plastic. Which isn’t really at home compostable or recyclable. But having a plastic made from corn is as bad for me because it’s just another possible corn contamination. If you’re interested in reading more about corn plastic, the Smithsonian has a good article: Corn Plastic to the Rescue.

In conclusion, corn packaging is an okay alternative and I’m glad compostable packaging is becoming a thing. But be wary if you have a food allergy as to what it’s made out of!