Are Paper Plates Compostable? The Truth from Manufacturer
There are many articles and answers to this question on Google and other search engines, but most of them don’t really solve the problem for the reader.
A lot of factors that determine whether the paper plates are compostable. In general, in the current marketm, palm leaf and bagasse plates with only food-grade additives are compostable. Coated and patterned paper plates are not compostable.
Paper plates can be found everywhere in our daily lives, and real compostable paper plates are good for environmental sustainability. As a compostable paper plate manufacturer, we will tell you the whole truth about compostable paper plates in this article.
We will explore with 7 sections, click on any section that you interest to get there quickly.
Biodegradable & compostable paper plates
Things that can be broken down into basic substances by normal environmental processes are said to be biodegradable. Animal and plant products are usually biodegradable, but minerals such as metallic glass and plastics usually are not.
Paper plate is a general term for a disposable pulp plate. In nature, paper plates can be made from a variety of raw materials, most of which are biodegradable, Such as sugarcane fiber, vegetable starch, wood fiber, bamboo fiber, palm leaves and so on.
However, the degree of decomposition and the time required for biodegradable plates vary widely. It depends on what other raw materials and additives the paper plate is doped with during the manufacturing process.
- Uncoated 100% sugarcane paper plates usually degrade naturally completely within 90 days.
- The corn starch plate with PLA membrane can only degrade naturally by 60% to 80%.
It must be mentioned here that biodegradable paper plate is not always compostable biodegradable. Biodegradable does not necessarily mean that it is compostable.
If the paper plate contains chemicals, this could contaminate your compost pile. We will mention this later.
The criteria for compostable are much more stringent than biodegradable. Compostable is mean that one is necessarily biodegradable, but biodegradable is not 100% compostable.
Home & induistry compostable
What is home compostable?
Home compostable, also known as residential compostable, is a small-scale composting process that can compost naturally in the dirt and trash.
Its best feature is to compost naturally without the help of any machinery, such as the compost pile in your garden.
How does home compost work?
Compost pile or bin is stored in a cool place and keep the environment moist.
When composting at home, the process can take longer than industrial composting. Sugarcane dishes without coating and ink can usually compost naturally within 90 days.
What is industrial compostable?
Industrial composting is the process of complete composting by means of machines and it’s much larger than home composting.
It’s usually done by governments, institutions, eco-company etc.
How does industrial compost work?
Industrial composting needs to be carefully monitored and managed. The composting materials should be classified, controlled and managed, and then uniformly thrown into large composting facilities.
1. The compostable waste is aerated by mechanical rotation;
2. Place the waste in the container and turn it over for a long time;
3. A network of pipes delivers air and water to the containers to create a moist environment to speed degradation.
Obviously, this requires a lot of manpower and resources.
Industrial composting is usually faster than home composting, but it relies on industrial equipment, which is not available in every region.
- Home compost only accepts truly 100% compostable products
- Industrial composting can compost many biodegradable materials
- Industrial composting usually takes less time
- Industrial composting relies on machines
Home composting is becoming more and more popular because it is more applicable and convenient and saves society resources.
Which paper plates are easy to compost?
Common biodegradable paper plates on the market are sugarcane, palm leaves, tree fiber, bamboo fiber, and corn starch.
To improve the utility of the paper plates, the world’s top manufacturers add different additives or coatings to these materials, making plates stronger, waterproof and oil-resistant. Such as wood and bamboo fiber dishes, and most corn starch dishes.
Sugar cane and palm leaves are the best raw materials used to produce compostable paper plates. The production process is short and usually contains only food-grade oil and water additives, no coating and chemicals-free.
What You Should Know About Paper Plate Materials?
Which paper plate materials are compostable and what are the different?
Are coated paper plates compostable?
Many disposable paper plates contain a coating for water and oil proof. To be sure, chemically coated paper plates are not compostable and cannot be microwaved.
Some coatings are produced with involves toxic chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A), phthalates, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds.
These chemicals are difficult to degrade naturally, and even make other materials that would otherwise biodegrade contain toxic substances.
Can you compost printed paper plates?
Colorful patterned paper plates are very popular with children. Paper plates with these themes are popular especially around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But unfortunately, they’re not fully compostable.
Like coatings, inks contain many chemicals that are difficult to degrade naturally and can leave toxic residue.
So, if the paper plates contain any special chemicals (such as coatings and inks), they should not be composted and certainly not microwaved.
Can Paper Plates Go in the Microwave Safely?
Are paper plates microwave safe? You can microwave most paper plates, but you need to be aware of the following:
How to compost paper plates?
Okay, so now you’re using 100% compostable paper plates, and here are some additional tips for composting:
- Coated and patterned paper plates are not fully composted and are not microwavable;
- After the party, put the leftover food in the designated dustbin;
- Removing food scraps from paper plates, will improve the effectiveness of your composting in garden;
- Break the paper plate into very small pieces or chop them up;
- Avoid mixing with non-biodegradable materials like plastic.
Are paper plates compostable?
Believe you know the answer by now, it’s not a simple “Yes” or “No”.
Palm leaf and bagasse plates with only food-grade additives are compostable.
Coated and patterned paper plates are not compostable.