Corn plastic, otherwise known as polylactic acid (PLA), is rapidly replacing traditional petroleum based plastics for food containers, utensils, disposable cups and more, but how do you dispose of it? It is common to find a recycle symbol printed or molded into the container, and many also promote that the item is compostable or biodegradable. So what is the most eco-friendly way to dispose of this new generation bio plastic? The answer may depend on which does less harm and very well could be the trash can.
Composting Bio Plastic
There are few facilities equipped to fully compost PLA down to carbon and water. The process to breakdown PLA cups is approximately 30–45 days in a commercial compost facility with a sustained temperature of 140 degrees for 10 days. Most people have had mixed results with backyard composters, some taking months, others even years, much related to sustained heat. › Continue reading
If you have a composting pile or bin for your home garden, then you should head down to your local cafe and pick up these compost boosters. Coffee shops throw away tons of used coffee grounds each year, grounds which are better suited for your garden. Many cafes offer these grounds to their customers if you just ask. Some Starbucks cafes even have them bagged and waiting for you in their Grounds for your Garden bin.
Coffee grounds are excellent for home garden composting, providing your plants with a rich source of nitrogen. You can even add them to rose beds, azalea beds, or any acid loving plants, just spread a thin layer over the surface of the bed. Typical acid loving plants thrive in areas where summer rains are common. Unfortunately, due to salt levels, you should not add coffee ground into your container plants.
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Beverage cups at Mariner’s baseball games, parfait cups at the University of Washington, and cold or hot coffee cups, everywhere I turn the Cedar Grove Composting label seems to be there as well. Now it’s become a fun game to point out every label I see.
Cedar Grove is a leading organic recycling company in the Pacific Northwest which started way back in 1938. They even proudly state that Cedar Grove Composting has grown to become the largest single dedicated yard waste composting facility in the United States. They provide 100% natural soil amendments, soil blends, and mulches. Also, the cups I’ve been seeing everywhere are 100% compostable and will break down into quality compost. Cedar Grove also provides recycled paper sandwich bags, cutlery, straws, and cold or hot food containers. On July 1st, Seattle will require that all single-use service ware be either recyclable or compostable. Cedar Grove is assisting this movement 100% and will make it easier to save money on waste costs going to a landfill and protect the environment by enriching the soil with nutrients from food and service-ware waste.
I just happened to see an amazing thing last night on television, a (seemingly) plastic snack-chip bag biodegrade in a time lapse in 12 weeks. Impossible! Or is it?
NatureWorks has developed a compostable bag for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Division, the makers of SunChips. As with many claims of length of time to biodegrade, it is usually very dependent on the environment it is placed in.
This fully biodegradable bag is said to be able to decompose over 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin or pile—at home or at an industrial composting site.
Unlike most biodegradable plastics which just break down into smaller pieces, but remain in the environment as small bits of plastic, these are made from a biopolymer resin made extracted from plant sugar called polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is made from lactic acid which in turn is made from dextrose by fermentation. Dextrose is made from starch and starch is made from carbon dioxide and water. It is said to also lower the impact on greenhouse gasses when compared to plastics due to the fact that it’s made with plants that grow annually instead of petroleum (which takes millions of years to form).
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I know it sounds like a complete oxymoron, but these picnic plates are both disposable and truly sustainable. Best when composted (as things don’t biodegrade in a landfill) to be truly sustainable cradle to cradle compliant, these sturdy plates are as much at home on your fancy dining room table as they are in the backyard. They feel as if they are made of wood, but actually are created by one of the least impact-full materials and processes: pressed fallen leaves.
It’s so simple and natural, it boggles my mind. Leaves that have fallen naturally are collected and pressed together using no chemicals, waxes or bonding agents, leaving them completely non-toxic and chemical free. This means no chemical binding agents or lacquers will be released into your hot food, and they compost easily and naturally. These are leaves that would have otherwise been burnt as agricultural “waste” but are instead formed into plates, bowls, and platters that are sturdy enough for both the microwave and regular oven.
The process itself is quite amazing as well. Using only 10% of the energy › Continue reading
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