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Why Compostables are Not the Answer

People often question us with “why are compostable coffee cups the answer to this environmental problem?” My dad was one of those people. He is a businessman whose job is to ask companies, like ours, hard questions. The other day, he came home from work with a compostable cup. He set it on the table and says “this is your competition.” I looked at him and said “what are you planning to do with this cup now?” He responded with “throw it away.” After he said that I knew he did not actually know what it meant for a product to be compostable. Perhaps the terminology, the marketing of compostable products has been misleading.


I had to explain to him that these “compostable” products only truly biodegrade in a commercial composter where they are able to control for light, temperature, and moisture. If these “compostable” products end up in a landfill, our city sidewalks, or in the ocean, they are just as bad as plastic. The polyfluoroalkyl (PFA) used to make compostable containers durable make the product too durable to degrade in the environment. To read more, see the FAQs from EcoProducts: https://www.ecoproducts.com/faqs-composting_and_recycling.html


To add insult to injury, compostable materials are usually more expensive. If the product is not BPI Certified Compostable (Biodegradable Product Institute), many facilities will not accept it, resulting in contamination and/or the materials being diverted to the landfill. Studies have begun to show that some compostable products offered at our favorite fast casual restaurants could contain