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The Biodegradagarden

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An experiment in disposable container technology

An experiment in disposable container technology

Published in: Design

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  • 1. The Biodegradagarden: An experiment in disposable container technology
  • 2.
    • Day One: Planted 4 types of biodegradable disposable containers
  • 3.
    • Day One: Planted 4 types of biodegradable disposable containers
  • 4.
    • The containers are all marketed as eco-friendly alternatives to traditional disposable food containers
  • 5.
    • This experiment seeks to find out if these materials will decompose in a backyard garden environment
  • 6.
    • My hypothesis is that the containers will not break down in this environment within one year’s time
  • 7.
    • And that the materials require a commercial composting facility to completely biodegrade in less than 1 year
  • 8.
    • In most landfills these containers would not receive the adequate amount of oxygen, heat, or water that they need to decompose in a timely manner
  • 9.
    • Will the containers fare better in the garden conditions?
    • Will they decompose before my lease is up?
    • Lacking a commercial composting facility, what is the ideal way to dispose of these materials?
    • Should one consider refusing disposable containers rather than pondering these questions?
  • 10. Maximum Estimated Time of Decomposition for Disposable Containers (in months) According to manufacturer
  • 11.
    • One month later - very little change in above ground appearance, decided not to dig up for observation
  • 12.
    • Five months after planting
  • 13.
    • The two cardboard containers completely disintegrated below the ground
  • 14.
    • Not a trace was left in the soil
  • 15.  
  • 16.
    • The wax-coated cold cups showed some change, while the compostable plastic cup showed no change
  • 17.  
  • 18.
    • The cold cup containers are made of paper and a wax coating called Ingeo™ biopolymer (plant-derived polylactic acid or PLA)
  • 19.
    • According to the manufacturer these containers should ideally be composted to biodegrade, but some changes did occur in the garden - particularly in the paper
  • 20.
    • This cup is made of PLA (polylactic acid - derived from corn starch) and should decompose completely in less than 6 months in a commercial facility
  • 21.
    • In a home composting environment, biodegradation could take up to a year or more
    • In these garden conditions, no discernible change has occurred in 5 months and it is reasonable to assume that it may take years to decompose
    • In a landfill it would take decades 1
    • 1.Worldcentric.org (the manufacturer)
  • 22.
    • The biodegradable foam, made of traditional polypropylene or polystyrene plastic along with an additive called AOC also showed no visible changes
  • 23.
    • The AOC (Active Organic Catalyst) additive is designed to interact with microorganisms present in compost, landfills, soil, and even oceans, lakes and forests
  • 24.
    • The additive acts as a catalyst to encourage microorganisms to break the material down into soil
    • The company does not specify how long the biodegradation process should take for this product, but estimates assume up to 2 years in home compost and 1 year in a commercial facility
  • 25. Percentage of Decomposition in the Biodegradagarden Over a Period of 5 months
  • 26.
    • The containers were replanted for further observation
  • 27.
    • A few weeks later…..
  • 28.
    • Something very interesting happened
  • 29.  
  • 30.  
  • 31.  
  • 32.  
  • 33.  
  • 34.
    • The chemical AOC additive had mutated the plastic and grown into an edible herb
    • Enviroware, the manufacturer of these foam containers, has named the product of this new phenomenon Enviroherb™
    • Recent studies have shown the herb to reduce cholesterol levels, boost immunity and help protect against memory loss, while providing a good source of antioxidants and magnesium
  • 35.
    • Try Enviroherb™ in soups, on salads, or use it in a marinade - you can even make Enviroherb™ tea
  • 36.
    • If your foodservice provider still uses “traditional” disposable containers ask that they switch to Enviroware™ - the only plantable disposable container on the market
  • 37.
    • In conclusion
    • This experiment has proven that this time the “lesser of two evils” in disposable container products has literally risen from the ground to become, in fact, a good - and a delicious one at that!
  • 38.
    • Thank You