BiodegradableStore – Plastic or Biodegradable?

It’s not hard to understand why food on-the-go is so appealing. Pull a car full of hungry kids into the drive-through at your local burger joint and everyone leaves full and happy. In the mood for a coffee or egg sandwich on the way to work? It wouldn’t be a surprise with dozens of 50ft billboards advertising blended coffees or hot snacks. Plus, it’s quick and easy. Unfortunately, the plastic or Styrofoam containers last much longer than the sandwiches, drinks, burgers or fries that are devoured in a few minutes.

Non-biodegradable plastics will last indefinitely and plastic is everywhere:
According to the EPA “In 2006, the United States generated about 14 million tons of plastics in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream as containers and packaging, over 6 million tons as nondurable goods [such as diapers and trash bags], and almost 9 million tons as durable goods [appliances].”

Recycling is definitely not eliminating plastics in the environment. The Epa continues to explain that “overall recovery of plastics for recycling is relatively small — 1.4 million tons, or 3.9 percent of plastics generation in 2003”

With this in mind, companies like the BiodegradableStore develop containers made from biodegradable materials. Corn Plastics (PLA) and Bagasse (sugarcane) make up containers that will decompose in 35- 60 days in proper composting conditions.

PLA products look and feel exactly like regular plastic, but since they are made from corn, these items are 100% compostable. The added benefit of corn products is that corn stalks are known to grow quickly and are a renewable resource.

Bagasse, is more heat tolerant than corn plastics (which deteriorate at temperatures above 115 degrees (F)) and is made from sugarcane stalk pulp. Bagasse is comparable to thick paper and is ideal for serving hot drinks. It is even microwaveable. Bagasse takes advantage of sugarcane stalks that are typically discarded during the sugar making process.

There are many incentives for food and beverage distributers to start handing out these products with meals. Consumers will be happier knowing that the countless cups, plates, napkins and even bags, will return to nature and this would be a positive thought to dwell on while the food has left everyone feeling uncomfortably full.

Categorized | Composting, Packaging, Recycling
3 Responses to “BiodegradableStore – Plastic or Biodegradable?”
  1. Kristin Overton says:

    Yes, but how many users know that the PLA and Bagasse products have to be composted in order to effectively become more green as these products will not break down in the landfill. Does each city or even metro area have a commercial composting facility readily available to accept these products? My guess is no as the state of Colorado only has one location with limited capacity. Finally, do the restaurants that sell the compostable products have separate trash cans for the compostable products? These are some questions I believe are important in truely deciding if compostable products in the long term answer. Especially with the price of corn affecting our food costs, I’d rather be buying cheaper produce and chicken than using a corn cup as I can recycle PET cups much easier.

  2. Leslie says:

    Please note that PLA and bagasse are compostable, not biodegradable. They will never break down in a landfill. PLA needs a commercial or municipal compost facility as per their specs (ASTM 6400). There are 28 of these according to an article in “Smithsonian Magazine” in the ENTIRE US where PLA can be put so it will compost.They will not break down in a backyard compost. PLA also uses more fossil fuels than regular plastic according to several studies (“How Green are Green Plastics”). So between the diversion of corn to PLA and ethanol, we have a shortage and higher cost for our foods for a product that cannot degrade in a landfill. Not a good choice in my book.

  3. Max says:

    I commend innovation and the introduction of plastics that will help with the plastic problem. Plastic bottles are a growing problem in our landfills and oceans. We felt that something needed to be done……and now.

    We felt that plastics made from crops that could be producing food, wasn’t the answer. In fact we were wondering what would become of all the PLA plastics produced. PLA plastics won’t biodegrade in a landfill, and they are not accepted by recyclers as PLA ruins the recycle stream of PET plastics. They must be composted in a commercial or municipal composting site….anyone know where they are?
    Additionally, many reports indicate that in addition to causing our food process to rise, the equipment and chemicals used to produce food based bio-fuel may be increasing pollution.

    We knew that there wasn’t going to be one “fix it all” answer and began to wonder if anything was ever going to be done. The problem was growing every day, more bottles were being manufactured and more bottles were accumulating in places where we didn’t need them.

    We were wondering if “Earth Friendly Bottles” would ever be available?

    That’s why we decided to do our part and started ENSO Bottles. We are partnering with other companies to offer a PET plastic bottle that will biodegrade, compost or recycle.

    Our bottles can be produced in a clear or colored version, however, clear version isn’t quite as clear as current PET plastic bottles but then again that’s one way to identify our earth friendly bottle.

    ENSO is trying to achieve sustainability with our plastic bottles. Our goal is to make bottles that won’t have the adverse impact on our environment and are made from non food bio-fuels.

    We haven’t started making them from bio-fuel but that’s high on our agenda and hopefully will be something we can offer in the future.

    But for now, we offer a plastic bottle that is earth friendly…it’s just one step but if we all take just one step toward improving our planet….we will make a difference.


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