Monday, March 30, 2009

What you need to know about compostable food packaging

In my book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green, I educate on the need of compostable / biodegradable food packaging -- such as when you do carry-out at a restaurant or when you personally want to use disposable dinnerware at home or in the park. But what many people don't understand about the available compostable / biodegradable dinnerware is that nearly all of it requires composting in a high-heat composting facility. This means I can't just put it in my backyard compost. It would mean I would have to take it to a municipal composting facility, or my city would have to provide a curb-side composting pick up for materials that can be composted. This is an added inconvenience.

The Biodegradable Products Institute is one of the best sources for understanding compostability and biodegradability of packaging and plastics. They are starting to move on certifying compostable / biodegradable food packaging. Such products would have this logo:

According to BPI, the logo identifies "plastic and paper products, which disintegrate and biodegrade completely and safely when composted in a municipal or commercial facility, like kraft paper, yard trimmings and food scraps."

How can you find your local municipal composting facility?

  • You can call your local recycling center or sanitation department to find your recommended municipal composting facility.
  • You can go to
  • You can write your local officials (mayor, city council, sanitation department manager, recycling center manager) to ask for curbside composting pickup

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