Planet-Safe® Labware Sustainability & Certifications

Banner image for Planet-Safe Sustainable Labware.


Planet-Safe® Sustainable Labware is a growing line of cell culture labware created by Diversified Biotech, Inc. Made from 100% renewable resources to meet the needs of laboratories focusing on more eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Planet-Safe® items are engineered with a lower carbon footprint and offer more environmentally friendly end-of-life options.

Sustainable Production Process

Flow-chart graphic showing the sustainable production process of Planet-Safe Sustainable Labware produced from PLA.

It starts with sugarcane! Polylactic acid (PLA) is a starch derived from a variety of renewable resources. The most common is sugarcane, though sugar beets and corn are also good sources. The crops utlized to make Planet-Safe® products are grown on land that does not compete with the cultivation of food crops in a regions where water scarcity is not an issue. To ensure that the most sustainable practices are in place during cultivation, plantations are certified through Bonsucro, the leading global sustainability platform for sugarcane.

Sustainable harvest: Plantations take advantage of the local climate allowing fields to be rain-fed naturally rather than incorporating irrigation systems that require both a source and energy to operate. Using the most current sustainable practices, and under the verification of Bonsucro, fields of sugarcane are harvested and delivered to a sugar mill for processing. In the mill, cane juice is extracted and the remaining materials are burned to produce electricity. Typically this practice produces excess energy that is directed back into the local energy grid.

Plants become pellets: At an adjacent facility, the cane juice (sugar) is fermented to produce lactic acid. A controlled condensation reaction is used to separate lactide and water. Water is then removed for reuse at the facility and an initiator is added to facilitate polymerization. The resulting biopolymer can be utilized like most other plastics, including conversion to pellets for injection molding.

PLA pellets become labware! Special formulations and unique manufacturing methods are utilized to create a variety of laboratory consumables. This includes items that need to have qualities such as rigidity, flexibility, temperature resistance and optical clarity. Planet-Safe® labware seamlessly replaces everyday consumables in your lab with eco-conscious alternatives derived from renewable resources.

Environmental Advantages of PLA

Reduced carbon footprint! Global Warming Potential (GWP) is used to measure the amount, in kilograms, of CO2 introduced into the atmosphere for every 1 ton of material production. Sugarcane grown to produce PLA absorbs and stores CO2 at a rate of 1,833kg CO2/ton of PLA. During PLA production, net emissions from cultivation, processing and polymerization are 2,334 kg CO2/ton of PLA.
Unlike other plastics, such as polystyrene (PS), the uptake of CO2 and subsequent sequestration represent a significant reduction in carbon footprint and a PLA GWP of 501 kg CO2/ ton (2,334 - 1,833kg). This represents a carbon footprint 83% lower than PS which has a GWP of 2,917 kg CO2/ton.

Graphic showing carbon capturing with PLA production.
By-Product Utilization! PLA generates multiple by-products during three main production steps which include sugar milling, lactide production and polymerization. A multi-functional approach is in place to utilize the majority of these by-products either in-house for current processes or in other industries to aid in less harmful practices.
Graphic showing Earth-Safe PLA production by-product utilization.


The standard used to determine if a plastic product can be aerobically composted in a municipal or industrial facility is ASTM D6400. To be considered industrially compostable, a plastic product must reach a minimum disintegration of 90%, based on weight loss, after being tested for a maximum of 84 days in a laboratory scale disintegration environment.

As shown below, Planet-Safe® Cell Culture Dishes will breakdown under the appropriate conditions within 21 days, reaching 90% prior to day 77, and will reach 100% disintegration prior to day 84. Since Planet-Safe® 96-Well Cell Culture Microplates are a more robust item, disintegration begins prior to day 21 and reaches 90% prior to day 84. Though the evaluation is ended after 84 days, extrapolating the data shows that 100% disintegration will be reached by day 88. This is represented in Fig. 1 by the green and white line.

Graphic showing overall disintegration percentage of Planet-Safe® items and cellulose control over 84 day trial period. The red line represents the minimum amount of disintegration. The green and white line represents extrapolated data to determine days required to reach 100% disintegration (microplate).


Industrial compost containing biodegraded Planet-Safe® labware is safe and will not hinder plant growth. Compost mixtures containing biodegraded Planet-Safe® material were evaluated for seed germination per ASTM D6002, and plant growth per OECD 208.
To determine any resulting reduction in germination or healthy growth, three replicates each of six different material mixtures were used to grow both barley and cress. Fig. 2 shows the average germination of each mixture indicating the percentage of seeds that sprouted and produced healthy plants showing no residual negative effects.

Graphic of germination values showing no phytotoxicity for composted Planet-Safe labware.

USDA Biopreferred

Managed by the USDA, The BioPreferred Program leverages mandatory federal purchasing programs to decrease US reliance on petroleum and increase the use of renewable/sustainable products. To make it easier for consumers to identify these biobased products, a voluntary labeling initiative was created to display on certified products and product listings.

USDA Biopreferred Label with 98% rating for Planet-Safe Labware.

To achieve BioPreferred status a product must undergo ASTM D6866 testing to confirm it contains the required minimum amount of biobased content. A Radiocarbon measurement determines the overall amount of biobased carbon and reflects it as a percentage. Planet-Safe® Labware became the first laboratory consumable to receive BioPreferred status in February of 2024 with a rating of 98%!

ACT Label

The ACT Environmental Impact Factor Label was designed to address the need of both scientists and procurement specialists for clear information about the environmental impact of laboratory products. By emphasizing Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency (ACT) around manufacturing, energy and water use, packaging, and end-of-life, ACT makes it easy to choose more sustainable products.

The certification process entails third-party verification of the sustainable impacts of a product, its operations, and its end of life. Most categories are graded on a scale of 1-10 with lower numbers indicating a lower overall environmental impact.

Planet-Safe® ACT labels can be found in the ACT Label Database.

Sounds great! But how does it perform with my cells?

Planet-Safe® Cell Culture Dishes and Microplates made from PLA are optically clear and naturally more hydrophilic than petrochemical resins such as polystyrene. This beneficial property allows a variety of anchorage-dependent cell species to grow without additional surface coatings or treatments.

OK, where can I find these products?

Ilex Life Sciences LLC is an authorized distributor of Planet-Safe® Sustainable Labware.