The Positive Impact of Biodegradable Products on Our Eco-System
Since biodegradable products were introduced in the 1980s, our society has expanded the list of potential applications as well as the varieties of products and their sources.
New to biodegradable products and compostable products? Need to brush up on your knowledge of the industry? This article is for you. It will give you a great overview of the processes involved as well as the pros and cons of using biodegradable products. Our purpose in writing this article is to educate and inform all interested parties about the facts concerning biodegradable products.
An analysis of the relationship between lifestyle traits, social influence, people's attitudes towards innovations and the adoption of advanced fast paced lifestyle contributes to the favor of plastic usage. Based on a random sample of 1000 US consumers, it is shown that people who travel, conduct business meeting, held home and business parties are highly dependent on plastics. Also social influence and attitudes towards innovations are relevant additions to the continued usage of plastics. People nowadays stressed importance to convenience over the global over-consumption crisis.
Since the 1980's more people shifted to disposable habits and consumption of throwaway plastics. We see it being used daily and in mass quantities as take-out containers at restaurants, as coffee cups in the office, and as packing material. We use plastics for just about anything because it's cheap, effective, and lightweight which complements to our instant way of life. Plastic bags, styrofoam and other to-go containers are now the primary mode of packing and transporting food. Our attitude to appealing presentation also made us love to choose food items with appealing packaging especially when it is for travel; we want our food to be neatly wrapped and secured. We also cite our busy life at work, school and many more activities as just another reason to use disposable wares so we can save time; not worrying about the hassle of dirty dishes.
In as much as we enjoyed our advanced lifestyle we are now facing several environmental issues and their impact to our ecosystem. We now depend on ecosystem benefits such as food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs. But what do we have now? Storms, floods, decreasing number, variety and variability of living organisms, all kinds of pollutants and most importantly the inadequacy of water resources.
Climate change has the potential to alter sensitive marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems in many regions, due to possible temperature increases, changes in precipitation, sea-level rises, and the
increased frequency of extreme events. Impacts on ecosystems can be made worse, or in many cases completely overshadow future changes in land use.
Changes in ecological conditions may favor the spread of pathogens, parasites, and diseases, with potentially serious effects on human health, agriculture, and fisheries. The increase in average temperature could increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths. Warmer temperatures could increase the concentrations of unhealthy air and water pollutants. Heat waves can lead to heat stroke and dehydration. Young children, older adults, people with medical conditions, and the poor are more vulnerable than others to heat-related illness. Heat waves are also often accompanied by periods of stagnant air, leading to increases in air pollution and the associated health effects.
Higher air temperatures can increase cases of salmonella and other bacteria-related food poisoning because bacteria grow more rapidly in warm environments. These diseases can cause gastrointestinal distress and, in severe cases, death. Flooding and heavy rainfall can cause overflows from sewage treatment plants into fresh water sources. Overflows could contaminate certain food crops with pathogen-containing feces. Heavy rainfall or flooding can increase water-borne parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia that are sometimes found in drinking water. Heavy rainfall events cause storm water runoff that may contaminate water bodies used for recreation (such as lakes and beaches) with other bacteria. Gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and the intestines that can cause symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, and fever are the most common illnesses contracted from contamination at beaches.
In some regions of the world, these impacts may compromise food security and threaten human health through malnutrition, the spread of infectious diseases, and food poisoning. The worst of these effects are projected to occur in developing countries, among vulnerable populations.
The products obtained from ecosystems, including genetic resources, food and fiber, and fresh water, the benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes, including the regulation of climate, water, and some human diseases, the non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experience, including knowledge systems, social relations, and aesthetic values and the ecosystem services that are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services including biomass production, production of atmospheric oxygen, soil formation and retention, nutrient cycling, water cycling, and provisioning of habitat. These benefits that we expect to have constantly may be limited or worst, their overuse and abuse may lead to the harm of the world's poorest people.
Effects to Human Health
Chemicals in Styrofoam can seriously put our health at risk. A few studies have shown that long-term exposure to styrene decreases birth rates, increases the risk for leukemia and lymphoma, and has devastating effects on the liver, kidney, and stomach. Heating our food on styro packaging releases toxic fumes that increase the risk of health problems over a period of time. Exposure to styrene can cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, and gastrointestinal harm. Eventually long term styrene exposure would b dangerous, causing headaches, depression, fatigue, weakness, and hearing loss.
Harm to the Environment
Besides the dangers of producing EPS, Styrofoam takes hundreds of years to decompose naturally. There are few known methods of breaking it down quickly though. And since expanded plastic foam is an end product, it cannot be recycled into different products, only reincarnated as itself. Recycling options are very limited since the process of melting EPS into a liquid state and then reforming it is too labor-intensive and toxic for recycling centers to handle. Also technology for this processing is limited to a number of recycling centers, so people turn to an easy option of just throwing it away.
Moreover, recycling centers do not collect expanded plastic foam because it will cost them much more than recycling glass which costs usually at about $100 per ton, EPS costs around$3000 per ton to recycle . Another reason why people do not recycle EPS is because the requirements of the process. Expanded plastic foam is formed into many different things which accordingly will have variations of rules and regulations for recycling. For all these restrictions on EPS recycling, others just choose to to throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cupsevery year. Imagine the the Earth filled of these which does not even count other expanded plastic foam products. Un-recycled Styrofoam in landfills breaks down into small pieces and carried away by wind into the ocean and the environment. Marine animals and birds mistake these white pieces of EPS as food causing a whole chain of events that eventually affects our health and the planet. When we eat marine life that feed on toxic EPS, we are also taking in these harmful chemicals to our bodies.
Plastic pollution has become a global phenomenon across the globe and even to the most remote locations. Harmful chemicals contained in plastics are present in the bloodstream and tissues of almost each one of us. Plastic is not biodegradable. It only breaks down into smaller particles whereby its toxic chemicals are ingested by wildlife which we have also consumed. In the U.S., it is confirmed that average consumer produces a half-pound of plastic waste daily. Around the world, some 300 million tons of the material are produced each year-a figure poised to expand, as new forms of plastics are devised to serve a voracious global appetite. Effects to human health are slowly felt and becoming controversial.
Two classified plastic-related chemicals are of critical concern for human health: bisphenol-A or BPA and phthalates ,an additive used in the synthesis of plastic. Experts explains that plastics are polymers-long chains of molecules usually made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and/or silicon, which are chemically bonded or polymerized. BPA is a basic building block of polycarbonate plastics, such as those used for bottled water, food packaging and other items. Since the 1940s, BPA has been recognized as an endocrine disrupting chemical that is said to affect normal hormonal function.
Aside from the health risks about BPA another fact is that other ingredients - such as plasticizers - are usually added to plastics. These potentially toxic components also leach out gradually for sometime. Like for example, the most common is a chemical known as di-ethylhexyl phthalate or DEHP. In some products the chemical may go directly into the bloodstream which cannot detoxify. This means unhealthy exposure levels, and can indirectly impact in susceptible populations such as newborns. Infants and pregnant or nursing mothers are particularly on a high risk for toxic exposure or passage of BPA and additives like DEHP.
Advanced Consumer Solution
Awareness had increasingly made society to begin to make wiser choices and many manufacturers's have developed more sustainable products, formed from biodegradable, non-toxic chemical building blocks. Successful studies have affirmed a number of petroleum-free construction materials as a smart and sustainable plastic alternative. Today, new forms of food wares made from renewable materials that are digestible by microorganisms. The ideas are being made available to reduced and eventually eliminate health and environmental concerns of plastics and styrofoam.
Among the number of genuine initiatives is what Nature House Brand has for the unified aim of eliminating plastic and turn society to use conventional plastic made from bagasse of sugarcane, plant starch such as cornstarch and potato peelings. Alfred of Nature House Brandfocuses on manufacturing these food containers made from renewable products. His products can be bought through Walmart and other online stores. Big and small businesses can also place direct order for Nature House Brand food containers with the assurance of receiving healthy, safe and eco-friendly product. Going green is the principal mission of Nature House Brand for everyone across the globe and of course without neglecting the importance of convenience, safety and durability of these to-go containers.
The durability of Nature House Brand products is unquestionable but to clarify these renewable products can break down and decompose naturally. For products made from sugarcane waste particularly the food trays can breakdown in landfills within thirty to sixty days in maximum. Also food cutlery and utensils can decay under natural conditions when it goes to landfills by sixty to ninety days. For environmentalists and concern individuals, Nature House Brand gets two thumbs up.
NatureHouse Green Products Inc. is a 100% certified MBE, HUB-Texas, dependable sustainable solutions company.
NatureHouse was established by partners who realized the need of being good stewards of the environment. Together with their stakeholders, they're building a company dedicated and committed to environmental stewardship and social responsibility, by providing one-stop convenient source for sustainable food packaging products, organic coffee & tea, and energy efficient light bulbs.
At NatureHouse, we believe that being an efficient and successful profitable business, and being a good steward of the environment are goals that can be achieved concurrently. That's why striving to be the preferred supplier of high quality sustainable products and services; and doing so at the lowest cost and highest customer & safety standards.
To constantly work in partnership with stakeholders (customers, suppliers, employees, and communities where where we operate), finding new ways to improve and promote sustainability practices, and expand relationships.
Integrity, Respect, Reliability and Trust while preserving 100% commitment to environmental and social responsibility.
Products & Services
The value added products and services stands apart and makes a difference by:
- Saving environmental-conscious customers money
- Offering biodegradability or Compostability
- Using recycled materials &/or reuse/recharge existing parts to conserve precious resources
- Are manufactured by non-toxic alternatives
- Energy and water efficiency
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Fairly traded to deliver social responsibility
NatureHouse's customer base is corporations, government agencies, medical and academic institutions, schools and churches, small businesses, and assorted customers who would like to contribute to environmental stewardship and social responsibility through green procurement.
NatureHouse believes that business is built on good customer relationships and partnerships. Each business journey starts with a dream, and inspiration. Inspired knowing that what we do makes a difference for present and future generations. The company envisions working together with all concerned to promote environmental stewardship and social responsibility; while at the same time participate in the 21st century program to thwart global warming.
They say that each one of us has a great role to make a change in order to live in a better world. The life threatening negative impacts of what we call human works have finally brought to the attention of our scientist, environmentalist and all other institutions concerning the welfare of our ecosystem. We have discovered a lot of alternatives to save our mother earth. What a beautiful world we would have when all products that we use biodegrades when composted, through this the concern of landfills maybe gone.
In using our raw materials in positive way we are helping the world through less pollution due to less excretion of toxins into our ecosystem which could alleviate the positive impact on our health and well being.
It is now highly recommended to use those products that are labeled as organic in promotion of safer and greener environment to get rid of harmful toxins. In response to the pervasive alterations to our ecosystem, strategies, management, and projects were realized that would increase the probability of preserving the natural dynamics of ecosystem as well as the processes and services associated to healthy ecosystem would be strictly implemented and would greatly contribute to the world we envision to live in.
Our commitment in preserving the nature as the priority is on minimizing doing things that could compromise the success of saving the nature is a vital requirement as our role in protecting and maintaining the ecosystem's stability and productivity. Making our world less prone to collapse and more stable on its natural processes, more productive of goods and services important to the lives of all species, forest that provides carbon storage, shelter to wildlife and promote the quality of air that we breathe in. The reconstruction of the river's unique hydro-logical structure that would bring back the life of many native species and the services they provide, when all these are back on in there proper way everyone will come to realize that we have a beautiful world that we all deserve to live in.
What are biodegradable and compostable products?
Biodegradable and compostable products are made from organic, natural materials like corn, potato starch, Oils and bagasse (sugar cane). These products come from annually renewable resources and are sustainably manufactured, non-toxic while in use and decompose back into the soil.
What is the difference between compostable and biodegradable ?
Compostable Product is a product which is "capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the product is not visually distinguishable and breaks down to carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass, at a rate consistent with known compostable materials and leaves no toxic residue." American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM). In order for a product to be called compostable, three (3) criteria must be met:
- Biodegrade - break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass at the same rate as cellulose (paper).
- Disintegrate - the material is indistinguishable in the compost, that it is not visible and needs to be screened out.
- No Eco-toxicity - the biodegradation does not produce any toxic material and the compost can support plant growth.
Biodegradable Products are products which will degrade from naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi etc. over a period of time. Note, that there is no requirement for leaving "no toxic residue", and as well as no requirement for the time it needs to take to biodegrade.What's wrong with plastic and Styrofoam ?
Plastic and Styrofoam are non-biodegradable, petroleum derived, stay in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years and leach toxic substances into the groundwater. Approximately 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in the USA alone, together with billions of Styrofoam and plastic cups, plates etc. Biodegradable products can, therefore, reduce landfill mass by as much as 30%.What's wrong with paper plates ?
Most paper disposable products are made from virgin wood fiber, which depletes our natural forests and the eco-services that forests provide. In comparison, bagasse is a byproduct of sugar cane production, a readily renewable resource and widely grown all over the world.What's the difference between Corn/PLA products and Bagasse products ?
PLA products are made from corn starch, while bagasse products are made from residual sugar cane fiber (a waste product of sugar production). PLA products work better with cold materials, while bagasse products work with both hot and cold materials are microwave and freezer safe.What is the shelf life of your products ?
PLA and bagasse products have an estimated shelf life of two years. Products should be stored in a cool dry area to achieve maximum life expectancy. PLA products should not be exposed to heat levels over 110 degrees F.How long will these products take to break down ?
Biocompostable products do not decompose on their own. They must enter the composting process. This entails putting them into the soil with food, yard waste and other organic materials. Once the Biocompostable product enters the compost system, it will decompose over a few months. Decomposition time is dependent on two factors. One factor is the way in which biodegradable products are disposed of. Biodegradables are best disposed of in a commercial composting system, as commercial compost piles contain large amounts of moisture, are kept at a high heat and are aerated frequently. In commercial composting systems bioplastics are expected to degrade within 180 days. Within a home composting system, where high levels of heat are not able to be reached and where aeration depends on how often the owner is willing to turn their pile, bioplastics can take more than 180 days to degrade. Another factor is product thickness. The thicker a product is the longer it will take to degrade. Many commercial facilities grind or cut products such as biodegradable cutlery in smaller pieces to decrease degradation time.Which products are the most sustainable ?
Bagasse products, which are made from sugar cane fiber leftover from juice extraction, are very sustainable products. It uses a waste product that would otherwise be land filled or incinerated.Isn't using corn for disposable products wasting a valuable food source ?
No, because it is made from No. 2 yellow dent field corn, the most abundant and cheapest source of fermentable sugar in the US. We use very little of available US corn crop.Have your items been tested for compostability by reliable sources ?
All our PLA products carry are certified by ASTM and BPI for compostability.Where is the nearest composting facility ?
please click here to locate a facility near you..How do I properly dispose of my bio-compostable products ?
Please dispose of products in compost bins whenever possible. Unfortunately, not every city has a nearby composting facility. You can contact your city's waste management and/or recycling programs for further information on your composting options. Your city or county website will often have information on composting and free composting classes available. Information on how to create your own compost can be found here.Biodegradable/compostable products are not recyclable and contaminate the recycling line. In the trash, they will most likely end up in a landfill.What's the difference between composting and recycling ?
Composting involves the decomposition of organic material by bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Recycling is re-processing used materials to create new items. Recycling works by collecting used "waste," sorting the materials, breaking it down into basic components and then recreating new goods. Biodegradable products are compostable, while most plastics are recyclable. Paper can be either composted or recycled.Is composting a feasible alternative to landfills ?
Composting biodegradable plastic, along with other biodegradable waste, generates much-needed carbon-rich soil (humus) instead of filling up our valuable land with waste. Compost amended soil can have beneficial effects by increasing water & nutrient retention in soil, reducing chemical inputs, (toxins, pesticides, etc.) and suppressing plant diseases. Many communities have large-scale centralized collection of yard waste and compostable material. (Please check with your community about options in your area or ask your waste disposal company.) Through composting, the problem of waste disposal could become the solution for low-input, sustainable agriculture.Shouldn't you encourage people to "reuse," rather than replace one disposable product for another ?
Yes, ideally we should all be reusing dining ware. Unfortunately, Americans use an immense amount of takeout containers and other disposable tableware everyday for convenience. Most of these materials are thrown into the landfill, stay there for thousands of years and leach into our groundwater. Biodegradable products offer a compromise: today's consumers get the convenience of disposables, while future generations benefit from cleaner groundwater, less landfill overflow and environmental degradation.Do Cities collect these products if they have food waste on them ?
Some counties (like Alameda and San Francisco) pick up food waste. In other cases, there are some companies that pick up green waste.
PLA (Corn Starch Plastic)What are corn plastics/ PLA ?
PLA is PoLylActic acid and is made from corn starch. It is a bioplastic that is both compostable & biodegradable.How is PLA different from recyclable plastic ?
The first and most important difference between traditional plastics and PLA (PoLylActic acid) is the material they are made from. Plastics are made from petroleum based chemicals & additives that are known pollutants and toxins while PLA are derived from corn-based resins (a non toxic and annually renewable resource). Secondly is the way in which PLA and traditional plastics break down. Traditional plastics can be recycled or thrown in a landfill to slowly breakdown over hundreds of years. PLA products can't be recycled but will biodegrade 60% of their mass within 180 days in a composting system. It is unknown how long Biocompostable products such as PLA take to break down if put in a traditional landfill system.Is there a symbol for "bioplastics" ?
Currently symbols #1-#6 are reserved for plastic products - bio-plastics and all other products, which can be considered as plastic, fall under the #7 symbol.Is PLA more or less expensive than regular plastic ?
That depends on the type and brand of the product, as well as the size of the order.How are the PLA products (cutlery, bags, cups etc.) manufactured ?
They are made by processes which are similar to how plastic products are made - injection molding, extrusion or thermal formed.How long will the corn-based cutlery take to decompose or compost ?
The PLA (corn derived) cutlery and any other products made from PLA (cups, biobags etc.) take longer to biodegrade and perhaps are best composted in a commercial facility. However, they can be composted at home and may take 180 days or more to biodegrade.What if I throw my PLA products into the trash ?
Our products require adequate amounts of heat, moisture and air to biodegrade. Unfortunately, conventional landfills do not fulfill these necessary conditions. If PLA products are thrown into the trash, it will be collected and dumped into the landfill. Communities across the country are rapidly depleting available landfill space, so any addition to landfill volume simply adds to this problem. More importantly, landfills are sealed which means little biodegradation occurs below the surface, so what is thrown away remains preserved for decades to come.What if I throw my PLA cutlery into the recycling bin ?
If the cutlery is thrown into the recycling bin, it will not be reformed into another plastic product, but will degrade in the actual recycling process. (Keep in mind that after the sorting process, a low percentage of plastic is actually recycled.)How do PLA products handle hot and cold foods ?
The PLA (corn derived) cutlery is heat resistant to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the 120 degrees F cutlery with hotter foods will make it lose its structure and shape. PLA is not microwave, but it is freezer safe. PLA is not microwavable, but freezer safe. The PLA products are especially great for cold products.Are PLA products edible?
While our PLA products are generally non-toxic, they are not recommended for human consumption. If accidentally ingested, most small pieces of PLA would pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract and are eliminated in the stool. If pain or discomfort occurs, please consult a doctor.What if I am allergic to corn?
While PLA is corn-based, the extreme heat used in processing this corn into the feedstock destroys immunologically reactive profilin. Thus, PLA should not cause an allergic reaction.Is the corn used to make PLA products GMO-free ?
The corn cutleries, which are made in China, are GMO-free. The products manufactured within the United States may be produced using GMO corn.Does this mean that Nature House supports GMO ?
We do NOT support GMO products, however, through the purchase of PLA resin we are contributing to GMO corn production. While we NOT do want to purchase anything with a GMO-base, our primary goal is to lessen our reliance on petroleum products and prevent the environmental degradation caused by the manufacture of these products. Further, we intend to work with our competitors to demand non-GMO corn for the marketplace. We believe that as the market for compostable plastics grow; we will soon have the purchasing power to eliminate GMOs in our products!
BAGASSE (Sugarcane Fiber)What is Bagasse ?
Bagasse is sugar cane fiber pulp, left after the juice has been extracted from the sugar cane stalk. Bagasse is normally seen as a waste product and incinerated, thus creating air pollution. Making tableware out of residual sugar cane fiber actually decreases air pollution and adds value to the material.How is Bagasse tableware manufactured ?
Sugar cane fiber bagasse tableware is made by pressing the pulp with intense pressure and high temperatures to a mold form. It is sterilized and sanitized and conforms to U.S. Food & Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) guidelines.What are the benefits of using bagasse ?
Bagasse is 100% compostable and it biodegrades in 30-60 days. Through the use of this product, you are contributing to a sustainable planet. Bagasse is a tree-free renewable resource and provides a superior alternative to petroleum derived products. It will biodegrade and will not stay in the environment for hundreds of years.How long does Bagasse take to biodegrade ?
The rate of decomposition depends on the composting conditions - the temperature, turnover rate, moisture etc. Just like other compostable material, products will biodegrade much faster, if they are broken into smaller pieces. Bagasse (sugarcane fiber) tableware will biodegrade at the same rate as garden waste in a home composting system, which depending on the home composting system can be approximately between 60 and 90 days. They will degrade faster in a commercial composting facility.How well do the bagasse products handle heat ?
The Bagasse (sugarcane fiber) tableware will handle hot food and beverages up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the tableware does "sweat" with hot foods and some condensation will form at the bottom of the tableware with hot foods. Bagasse is both microwave and freezer safe.
POST CONSUMER WASTE PAPERWhat is PCW Paper ?
Post consumer waste (PCW) paper is made from paper that has been used by the end consumer, collected from various recycling programs.What's the difference between regular paper and PCW paper ?
"Regular" paper is probably made of virgin trees, while PCW paper is made from paper that has been used by the end consumer. According to www.papercalculator.org, 100% PCW paper uses 42% less energy, releases 37% less carbon dioxide and pollutes 46% less water than 100% Virgin paper.Biodegradable products are not of good quality as conventional products:
Like any other new products in the market, the quality of biodegradable products has evolved, and now, most of these products are even better quality than conventional products. Some of the products i.e. products made from sugarcane fiber "bagasse" have even added of being microwavable compared to conventional Styrofoam products which are not microwave safe because they will unleash toxins in to the food/beverage when micro wavedBiodegradable products are more expensive than conventional products
This depends with the type of the product. Products made from sugarcane fiber "bagasse" are very competitive compared to conventional products since the fibbers used were originally meant to be a waste and are used to make such products.Shouldn't you encourage people to "reuse," rather than replace one disposable product for another?
Yes, ideally we should all be reusing dining ware. Unfortunately, Americans use an immense amount of takeout containers and other disposable tableware everyday for convenience. Most of these materials are thrown into the landfill, stay there for thousands of years and leach into our groundwater. Biodegradable products offer a compromise: today's consumers get the convenience of disposables, while future generations benefit from cleaner groundwater, less landfill overflow and environmental degradation.Biodegradable products will not breakdown in conventional landfills. There is no commercial compost facility in my city to take these products.
More and more cities especially in the west coast have built commercial composts because there are already enough consumers of biodegradable products in the region. Some counties (like Alameda and San Francisco) pick up food waste. As the number of green consumers increases, more municipalities will build commercial composts to take biodegradable products waste. Composting biodegradable plastic, along with other biodegradable waste, generates much-needed carbon-rich soil (humus) instead of filling up our valuable land with waste. Compost amended soil can have beneficial effects by increasing water & nutrient retention in soil, reducing chemical inputs, (toxins, pesticides, etc.) and suppressing plant diseases. Many communities have large-scale centralized collection of yard waste and compostable material. (Please check with your community about options in your area or ask your waste disposal company.) Through composting, the problem of waste disposal could become the solution for low-input, sustainable agricultureMost of the biodegradable products in the market today are imported from overseas.
It's true that most of the products are imported. Our goal is to open the American market with these products, and as the market grows, we can justify building local manufacturing facilities here in the USA.
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