Plastic and Compostable Forks

Which is best? Compostable vs. Biodegradable Food Packaging

Hint: You probably mean biodegradable when you talk about food packaging

At JYBE, we believe the best way to solve a problem is to avoid creating it in the first place. We launched our restaurant ranking platform in 2020 to help consumers choose places that use the most eco-friendly packaging for home delivery, and to educate the public about the best options available. To begin with, compostable containers are among the worst options available, and here’s why.

Does it matter what type of disposable food packaging restaurants use?

Compostable products take advantage of a term we commonly associate with a gentle decomposition process. Backyard composting is natural, eco-friendly and sustainable. But that doesn’t apply to manufactured packaging products. Those sturdy materials require a facility called an ‘industrial composter’ to have any chance of breaking down. Few American cities have them, and unless your waste hauler gives you a separate container to collect ‘compostables,’ you’re not in an area that does it.

And even once they do break down after 3-6 months, they don’t yield nutrients; they just yield materials that can make more containers.

Biodegradable refers to materials that, when left alone in the elements, will naturally breakdown over time without causing harm to plants or animals. That box your pizza came in will vanish quickly if left out in the open or if it tumbles into the water. The kraft paper that wrapped your sandwich will fare no better.

Don’t fall for the hype about so-called compostable products. They create a false sense of sustainability when, really, we should focus on biodegradable materials that the Earth can process on her own.

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