Biodegradable fast food containers made from waste straw
Not only are polystyrene fast food containers usually not recyclable, but they also take eons to break down in a landfill, can emit harmful compounds, and require petroleum to create. Using paper is one alternative, but Hong Kong-based company Innovasians is now offering another – 100% biodegradable containers made from waste straw left over after wheat harvesting.
The straw used in the process comes from China, and would otherwise be burnt. The technology itself is Canadian. Although the production process is confidential, the finished containers are composed of 60% straw, and 40% ... well, something else. Not only are they biodegradable, but they are also reportedly non-toxic, microwavable, dishwasher-safe (and thus reusable), and stable at temperatures from -40 to 260ºC (-40 to 500ºF). No petroleum-based materials are used in their production, nor are any toxins released into the environment.
The containers are currently in use by three Asian clients, although additional buyers are being sought. There’s no word on how the cost of the straw-based containers compares to that of other materials.
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Straw is used for animal bedding, mulch for plants and newly seeded lawns, insulation around outdoor water pipes and house foundations, and even as a building material for homes (Google "straw bale construction").
Finding another use for this already useful material is great.
Often these novel and environmentally friendly things end up using more oil and fossil based energy than making the equivalent objects out of plastic. Not forgetting that plastic takes a fraction of a second to break down in a high temperature furnace, and energy is a result.
What looks like silk may really be a sow's ear.