Biodegradable plates a pleasant surprise

Biodegradable plates a pleasant surprise

Sometimes life can drag you down and despite all your best efforts to stay positive and hopeful, you can become sceptical that things can and will change for the better and that when a person or business promises better environmental practices that they will actually follow through.

When my children studied sustainable waste management at school and came home to tell me the supermarkets were going to outlaw plastic bags by 20-something and choose to only import environmentally friendly disposable plates and cups, I admit I was hopeful but sceptical. So I replied, “we’ll see”.

I am over the moon to announce that I am no longer sceptical because the change is here. I have noticed for the past two to three weeks that “bio cups and plates” made from 70 per cent starch are displayed right at the front of the CITC supermarket where the wine used to be.

I have been doing some research online to find out what these cups and plates are made of and I am not sure if I found the exact info on the bio plates made in China, but I did find some fascinating insights to a whole new and growing industry involved in creating and supplying fully biodegradable and compostable disposable plates and cups.

Bio plates are made from areca leaves and were originally made in India. From a completely free and discarded natural waste the fallen palm leaf is gathered, washed in spring water, then heat-pressed into shape which also sterilises the leaf. No chemicals, waxes, dyes or additives are used!

Plates from sugar cane leaves, corn starch and potato starch are all now being made.  The potato plate is amazing, Potatoes, on their journey from spud farm to dinner plate, are blasted with water – washed, scrubbed then, at 120 kilometres an hour, pushed through a tube fitted with a set of knives to cut wedges, chippies or chips.

The water, then full of starch from the cut surfaces, is processed through a starch extractor. What comes out is potato starch, a valuable by-product, (used to make plates here) after being filtered it leaves another valuable resource, clean, re-usable water.

They take waste and use it to create something that alleviates waste! Unlike the manufacturing process used to create plastics and polystyrene, the patented potato manufacturing processes emits no noxious fumes to the atmosphere or toxic liquid waste. Trees are important because they use up carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to produce oxygen that we need to breathe.

Did you know that A 25g potato plate sequesters (takes away) the amount of carbon dioxide contained in about 110 square metres of the earth’s atmosphere?

Many earth-conscious companies I read up on said that nature is amazing and the answers to the waste we have created can be found in nature if we start to look with the mind set of not just reducing our waste but not creating waste in the first place.

There are exciting times ahead as \leading companies like CITC create positive change in our communities, not only with their colourful recycling bins but also now with their eco-friendly disposable plates and cups.

Nice one, CITC.

Ruth Horton

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