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Frequently Asked Questions

Bagasse (Sugarcane)

QUESTION:  What is Bagasse?

ANSWER:  Bagasse is sugar cane fiber pulp, left after the juice has been extracted from the sugar cane stalk.  Bagasse is normally seen as a waste product, and is often burned thereby causing air pollution.  Making tableware out of the sugar cane pulp solves the problem of waste and as well creates a value added product from a material, which is treated as a waste product.

 

QUESTION:  What are the benefits of using bagasse?

ANSWER:  Bagasse is 100% compostable and it biodegrades in 60-90 days.  Through the use of this product, you are contributing to a sustainable planet.  Bagasse is a tree-free readily renewable resource and provides a superior alternative to petroleum derived products.  It will biodegrade and will not stay in the environment for hundreds of years.

 

QUESTION:  How long does Bagasse take to biodegrade?

ANSWER:  The rate of decomposition depends on the composting conditions – the temperature, turnover rate, moisture, etc.  Just like other compostable material, products will biodegrade much faster if they are broken into smaller pieces.  Bagasse tableware will biodegrade at the same rate as garden waste in a home composting system, which, depending on the home composting system, can be approximately 90 days.  They will degrade faster in a commercial composting facility.

 

QUESTION:  How well does bagasse handle heat?

ANSWER:  Bagasse tableware will handle hot food and beverages up to 212 degrees.  It is also microwave safe.  However, the tableware does “sweat” with hot foods and some condensation will form at the bottom of the tableware with hot foods.  Bagasse is both microwave and freezer safe. 

 

QUESTION:  How is Bagasse tableware manufactured?

ANSWER:   Sugar cane fiber bagasse tableware is made by pressing the pulp at high pressure and temperatures to a mold form.  It is sterilized and sanitized and conforms to FDA Administration guidelines.

 

PLA (Corn Starch)

QUESTION:  What are Bioplastics?

ANSWER:  Bioplastics are a new generation of compostable & biodegradable plastics which are made from readily renewable resources such as corn, soybeans, potato, etc.

 

QUESTION:  What is PLA?

ANSWER:  PLA is PolyLactic Acid and is a product made from corn-starch, with a look and feel like petroleum based plastic.  PLA is the most commonly used bioplastics for making products.

 

QUESTION:  How are the bioplastics products manufactured?

ANSWER:   They are made by processes which are similar to how  plastic products are made – they are thermal formed.

 

QUESTION:  How long will the PLA take to decompose or compost?

ANSWER:  Certified compostable PLA by ASTM are required to degrade within 180 days in a commercial composting facility.  Home composting systems may take more than 180 days to biodegrade.  Based on the thickness, kind of resins, the PLA can have varying rates of decomposition.  The corn cutlery, cold cups, drinking straws and the biobags can take up to 180 days in a commercial composting facility.  The potato cutlery will also take 180 days or more to degrade in a commercial facility.  Biodegradation will be faster if the products are broken down to small pieces or ground up.

 

QUESTION:  What if I throw PLA into the trash?

ANSWER:  PLA cutlery is designed to return to the soil through composting.  If thrown into the trash it will be collected and end up in a landfill.  Landfills are sealed which means little biodegradation occurs below the surface, so what is thrown away may not degrade for a long time.  However, it is still environmentally better than plastic, as eventually the bioplastics will still biodegrade, while petroleum based plastic will stay around for hundreds of years.

 

QUESTION:  What if I throw my PLA into the recycling bin?

ANSWER:  If PLA products are thrown into the recycling bin, they will not be recycled into other plastic products.  PLA is currently not manufactured to be recycled, but to be composted.  (Keep in mind that after the sorting process, a low percentage of plastic is actually recycled.)

 

QUESTION:  How does PLA handle heat and cold?

ANSWER:  The PLA products are heat resistant to 104 degrees .  PLA can be used only for cold and warm foods and are freezer safe.

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

 

QUESTION:  What’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable products?

ANSWER:   Biodegradable plastic is a degradable plastic in which the degradation must result from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms, such as fungi or bacteria.   Compostable plastic is a plastic that undergoes biological degradation during composting to yield carbon dioxide, water, inorganic  compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials, such as cellulose, leaving no visually distinguishable or toxic residues.  Biodegradability does not necessarily mean compostability but is one of the components of compostability.   In addition, compostability requires disintegration of 90% of the material to a size less than 2mm, and also mandates that the compostable material does not create any eco-toxicity in the soil.

 

QUESTION:  Is composting a feasible alternative to landfills?

ANSWER:    By composting biodegradable plastic along with the other biodegradable waste, we can generate much needed carbon-rich soil (humus) instead of filling up our valuable land with waste.  Compost amended soil can have beneficial effects by increasing water & nutrient retention in soil, reducing chemical inputs, (toxins, pesticides, etc.) and suppressing plant diseases.  Many communities have large-scale centralized collection of yard waste and compostable material.  Through composting the problem of waste disposal could become the solution for low-input sustainable agriculture.