eco ramblings

a dialogue with an Eco Patriot

Archive for the ‘biodegradable’ Category

An Industry Parody…

Posted by Luke on October 19, 2010

With videos seeming to be the theme with my posts this week, here’s one I made that mocks a typical sales rep in my industry when they call on a customer.  It’s my debut as a director.  Enjoy!


Posted in biodegradable, imitators, marketing, Video | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Recap from the U.S. Composting Council Annual Conference

Posted by Luke on February 2, 2010

I spent most of last week in Orlando at the U.S. Composting Council’s annual conference.  The organization continues to grow and the conferences seem to get better every year.  There were a few trends and pieces of news worthy of sharing that seemed to be apparent at the conference.

  • Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection has committed to diverting 75% of their waste by 2020.  Wow, that’s a lofty goal – the highest of any state and 2.5 times their current diversion rate.  That’s a ripe market for business opportunities in waste management.
  • In talking with composters, they continue to struggle with contamination of plastics.  Currently, there isn’t a good universal symbol that allows for easily identifying compostable products.  BPI’s symbol is the only third-party certification available.  However, it’s not federally regulated or required on compostable products and it’s not the easily identifiable symbol that composters are looking for to know what is compostable and what isn’t.  Frankly, I don’t think there is a symbol out there because you can’t use a color to indicate compostability.  Big brands won’t go for it and you can’t make some products/packaging/materials in colors.  I’ll talk more about this issue in an upcoming post. 
  • Polyethylene coated paper hot cups are accepted into the City of San Francisco’s composting program, but they aren’t ASTM D6400 or D6868 certified, so technically they aren’t “biodegradable” or “compostable.”  This further complicates the labeling dilemma in the previous bullet.
  • The FTC is cracking down more on misleading claims of biodegradability and they’ll continue to do so.  This goes for both product manufacturers and retailers.  Retailers need to do their homework as well, not just trust what manufacturers say.
  • There needs to be a better link between food waste generators (i.e. restaurants) and composters.  Restaurants struggle to find a way to get their organic waste to composters and composters don’t have the hauling logistics.  This often requires a third party hauler.  On a similar note, if you want to locate a compost facility near you, go to
  • The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) run by Steve Mojo is a great organization.  Steve works his ass off to make this world a better place.  Thanks Steve!

Posted in biodegradable, compostable, compostable products, composting, event, foodservice, greenwashing, zero waste | Leave a Comment »

Compostable Sun Chip Bags

Posted by Luke on January 26, 2010

Direct from the US Compousting Council Conference in Orlando…

If you haven’t seen Frito Lays’ advertising for their new renewable and compostable Sun Chips bags, here it is…


These bags are a nice step towards more sustainable food packaging, and it’s nice to see such a large brand owner leading the charge which will surely drive more companies this direction.

Posted in biodegradable, compostable, composting, foodservice | Leave a Comment »

Which is more environmentally sound: recycled content or compostable?

Posted by Luke on January 23, 2010

There was a great article in a recent Resource Recycling issue that evaluates the pros and cons of recycled content vs renewable/compostable.  This is a growing debate with foodservice operators and one that will surely continue for some time.  With the growth of both products made from recycled content and products made from renewable resources, restaurant owners now have a couple of great alternatives to petroleum-based products based on their waste management systems. 

Benefits of renewable-resource based compostable products:

When looking at the life cycle analyses of bioplastic resin such as NatureWorks Ingeo PLA, there’s no question that PLA releases fewer greenhouse gases during production than its petrochemical counterparts like PET.  There’s also the key benefits of being produced from plants instead of oil and its ability to be turned back into dirt if disposed of properly in a commercial composting facility.  Some argue that PLA takes away from our food source, but I have never been able to agree them.  The corn used to produce PLA is grain corn, not the type of corn we eat on the table.  And if the NatureWorks factory was at full capacity, which it isn’t, it would only consume .1% of the nation’s grain corn.  Another argument anti-PLA people use is that PLA is made from GMO corn, which it is.  Although I’m not a fan of GMO myself, I’d much rather use a GMO plant to produce a plastic cup than use oil imported from who knows where.

Benefits of recycled content:

Recycled content creates an interesting alternative and one that I believe is a 2nd best option to renewable resource-based products.  Making cups from recycled content supports the recycling market which, ideally, in turn will build demand for more recycled products and more recycling.  Building the demand for recycled products is important because if recyclers can’t find a channel to sell their recovered materials, they’ll be less likely to collect certain types of materials and will ultimately drive up the price for recycled content.

So between the two – recycled content and renewable/compostable – we now have two great options outside of virgin petrochemical-based products.  What’s great about these options is that people can choose what works best for them.  If they have access to a composting facility, renewable/compostable products are the most environmental choice.  If they don’t have access to such a facility, recycled content products are a good alternative.

Posted in biodegradable, compostable, compostable products, foodservice, packaging, recycled products, renewable resources, RPET | Leave a Comment »

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