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3082 Peachtree Drive NE
Atlanta, GA 30305



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Challenge of doing the right thing

Hadley Laughlin


Recently, I was at a Green Foodservice Alliance meeting and a restauranteur shared what he had implemented on the eco-front…1) a recycling program that has already diverted 75% of the restaurant’s waste from landfills and 2) he purchased biocompostable cups instead of plastic ones.  The latter brought up an interesting discussion about biocompostable cups and dishware.  He felt he was doing the right thing even if it did cost him a bit more because they would rapidly biodegrade in the landfills, as opposed to the plastic ones.  However, these items are only compostable in the right environment and a municipal landfill does not provide this because it is an anaerobic setting.  Composting requires an aerobic setting (i.e. oxygen).   That said, he was frustrated and felt misled.  The real dilemma in all of this is the transparency & lack of information provided by companies that make and sell such products that claim to biodegrade.  While these companies are accurate about their products being biodegradable, they also need to clearly inform customers on how to properly dispose of their products (i.e.  sending to a composting facility and NOT a landfill).  Another thing these companies should highlight is the fact that their products are made from renewable resources, unlike their plastic counterpart which is made from nonrenewable resources, like petroleum.   I am sure there are more positive life-cycle attributes to biocompostables, so why not make sure these are communicated to the end-user.  This will only help people make better, more informed decisions.