Thank you for the excellent question which I had when I started this entrepreneurship about a year ago for the sake of the environment. I searched and researched for 6-8 months on what’s the best alternative there is. Please request your time for the rest of the long details below. After much thought and aiming for the best – we came up with Edible Cutlery.
Pardon me if I’m biased toward my product but since I had done some ground work on the other alternatives – I would like to share my thoughts & references. Sincere request to share it to your peers in the food industry.
Compostable cutlery is a huge false positive that’s affecting the environment than helping it. Please refer to the references below (links) for more information.
Why? Can be broken down in brief to two points:
- Compostable (even certified ones) only compost by short time in composting facilities (not recycling, landfills, oceans or home composts)
- Not many cities have these setups and even they do, not all customers segregate them to send them to industrial composting facilities.
- Due to the false positive affect, many people opt for these and throw away without knowing the impact.
Did you only 9% of the plastic is recycled on earth? The amount composted is much less due to lack of infrastructure and facilities.
The 3 most commonly used alternatives to plastic are:
- Biodegradable Plastics
- Recycled Plastics
Biodegradable plastics, often referred to as photodegradable or oxydegradable, are plastics that can be decomposed by the action of living organisms, most commonly, bacteria. Biodegradable plastics are made of petrochemical plastics, which typically break down into harmful substances that are not suitable for composting. These can leave behind a toxic residue as well.
Recycled plastics are plastic made from recycled plastic materials. In other words, products that are recycled into something new. While this is a great alternative to keeping a product out of the landfill, there are still resources that go into the process of collecting and recycling an item.
Bioplastics are plastics derived from natural materials, such as corn starch and sugar cane. PLAs, made from polylactic acid, also known as polylactide, are now often used to make food containers. While bioplastics are sometimes compostable, often times they require high temperatures in industrial scale and will therefore not break down in conventional landfills.
When biodegradable plastics decompose, they produce methane gas, which adds to the problem of global warming. Some versions of PLA products are made from genetically modified corn, which many deem are bad for the environment. This corn is also produced on land that could be used to grow food for the world, instead of plastic Many biodegradable plastics and bioplastics require high temperatures or UV light to decompose, which takes many years and often leaves behind toxic residue and micro-plastics.
Growing crops to make bioplastics uses environmental resources such as water and fuel and produces both greenhouse emissions and water pollution from fertilizer run-off. PLA’s cannot be easily recycled and cannot be combined with true plastics in a residential recycling bin. No bioplastic or biodegradable plastic is truly compostable.
The image below was posted on www.myplasticfreelife.com and shows a PLA product made from potato starch that has been through a commercial compost operation in San Francisco (60-90 days) with no signs of decomposing. They also featured a wheat-based product with the same outcome.
Some best articles on these: (worth the read!)
Please let me know if you need further information from my side. Looking forward for a planet friendly future ahead!