molded fiber plate with a bagel on it next to cup of coffeemolded fiber square plate with fresh salad on it

Is My Plate Compostable or Recyclable?

There are so many terms that are used when it comes to eco-friendly products that we risk all of these terms becoming meaningless if we are not a little more careful with how we use them. If you look at product labels, many manufacturers are attempting to make products look green when they have no green attributes at all or at least very questionable ones.

Compostable RecyclingThere are a few key terms that get the most airplay, and only fewer still that have any real meaning. We're going to use this post to review those terms that relate to household items and more specifically paper, plastic and molded fiber products.

Recyclable Plates

Most people know that many household waste items are recyclable. It has been drilled into us by our local waste companies and local governments which plastic items can be thrown into the recycling cans out in public locations and which plastics we toss in our curbside blue bag and blue bin pickup. It is fairly common knowledge that those items will be recycled, in essence, repurposed, into another product. The concept of recycling is fairly well understood by most, but did you know that the plastics need to be clean when sent for recycling? This means if you're using disposable plastic plates, you can't just toss them in your blue bag, because they'll spoil the batch unless they're rinsed off. This means disposable recyclable plastic plates aren't quite as disposable as they imply.

Biodegradable Plates

We recommend you proceed with caution if you find a disposable plate that's advertised as "biodegradable" While this term is becoming less common and is even restricted by several state governments and regulatory agencies, the term biodegradable is very different from compostable. Biodegradability refers to something that will break down into carbon and water, relatively harmless components. That is rarely what actually happens in today's landfills. Landfills do not provide the sunlight and oxygen required for the breakdown of the item, and in most cases harmful micro-plastics are left behind. Those same conditions that restrict the breakdown of the material also contribute to the release of methane gas in the landfill, which is a major contributor to global warming. It is believed that landfills are the third largest source of man-made methane. The first two being fossil fuel production and the farming of livestock.

Compostable Plates

One of the best terms you can find on a disposable plate package is the term compostable. Whether that refers to the package or the contents, the term compostable has a very clear and well-defined meaning. The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) provides consumers with a very good level of assurance that the items that bear its approval (BPI Certified) adhere to a strict standard of compostability You can learn more about what BPI Certified means here. ASTM D6868 is another common designation that indicates that the product or package will compost in a commercial composting facility in as little as 60 days.

When something is compostable, it will break down into humus/organic matter often referred to as biomass and water. A simple, natural process that has been going on since the first plant life sprouted on the Earth. When the first leaves fell off of a tree and landed on the forest floor, organisms digested the material, broke it down and converted it to biomass so that it could replenish the dirt on the ground, and help the soil produce more growth. That process is slow and gradual. We have the ability in commercial compost facilities to accelerate that process and convert waste to biomass much more quickly.

Time to Dish Out Change

CiboWares' selection of compostable tableware products are BPI certified and have ASTM D6868 designation. In a world grappling with the detrimental effects of plastic pollution, our compostable tableware stands as a beacon of environmental responsibility. Offering a compelling alternative to conventional plastic products, CiboWares' selection is designed to meet the diverse needs of any establishment, from bustling cafes to elegant dining establishments. We invite you to join us in making environmentally responsible choices without compromising on quality or style. Let your establishment be a beacon of sustainability, one compostable plate at a time.

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