So imagine this, you’ve picked your kid’s birthday party date, you’ve chosen the menu, and you’ve made a special trip to pick up those compostable spoons so you feel good about your carbon footprint. Only to have a guest ‘helpfully’ point out that they are a lie - the spoons actually don’t compost at all. In fact, they could still be laying there - floating among the other 40 billion plastic utensils found in landfills and the oceans - 2 years later.
You may feel guilt - but don’t. It’s not your fault. Several manufacturers of these so-called ‘compostable’ spoons have been misleading consumers for years. Let’s take a deeper dive.
The majority of current compostable cutlery is made from what’s called bio-plastics: plant based alternatives marketed as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic by using terminology such as biodegradable or compostable. This is true to an extent, but only if your compost pile or bin composts at an industrial level. Meaning, unless you are able to break down the marital into tiny pieces and compost with a very high heat - it won’t go anywhere.
Discarded in a backyard compost bin, they may break down eventually (think - 2 years or more but when they do, they degrade the quality of the compost or soil. Instead of adding rich nutrients like traditional composting, they break down to resin-like, sticky pieces that won’t help plants thrive or grow. They also have the potential to create methane gases, the one responsible for global warming.
No worries! You’ll just recycle them, right? Wrong again. Because they’re not plastics - they’re bio-plastics - they don’t belong in the recycling either. In fact, placing them in the recycling can mess up that whole system. When recycling plants find objects in the sorting stream that don’t belong, rather than picking them out (that takes time and money), they just send the whole lot to the landfill.
- But seeing as though they’re plant based, it must be better for the environment to make them? Shoot. Wrong again! Most of these bio-plastics are made with non-organic corn. An immense amount of water and resources are needed to grow this annual crop. Plus, a ton of pesticides are used - causing issues with local wildlife and groundwater - and a bunch of valuable farming land is taken up growing a crop that is eventually just thrown away.
To break it down (pun intended) these ‘compostable’ cutlery brands’ misleading marketing could potentially be doing more harm than good in 3 scary steps. 1) Polluting recycling streams and diverting more to the landfill. 2) Adding unhappy nutrients to the soil IF they break down at all in your home compost and contribute to global warming. 3) Taking up unnecessary space, a boat load of water and the risk of pesticide pollution on the ground level.
The only true compostable brand of spoons is twentyfifty! Try it and bury one yourself!