Compostable Plastics

GAINESVILLE, FL – In the 1967 classic film ‘The Graduate”, Mr. McGuire tells young Benjamin “There’s a great future in plastics”. He was right. Plastics replaced glass, metal and wood in many products. While most plastics are petroleum based, they can be plant based. Plant based plastics are popular for to-go meals at restaurants and can be compostable.



You might be tempted to put those utensils in your backyard compost – but that idea is a little half baked. Compostable cutlery is meant for industrial composting facilities.

Dr. Dina Liebowitz with UF/IFAS Field and Fork Gardens explains: “The backyard composter and the industrial compost pile are using the same biological processes for the most part. You know, it’s all putting together this ratio of carbon to nitrogen, mixing it up. The bacteria breaks it down for a while.

Dr. Liebowitz goes on to say, “The earthworms, the other things come in and break it down a little bit longer and then it kind of chills out and becomes a semi stable compost. They’re probably just operating faster, hotter, more carefully managed and aerated more frequently and turned more frequently than your backyard compost or might be.”

If you are concerned about the future of the earth, reusable utensils are the way to go. Compostable plastics are an alternative as long as they are composted correctly.

For more info: EPA FAQ about plastic recycling and composting



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Posted: May 10, 2022

Category: , UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Video
Tags: Composting, Plastic

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