Is plant starch cutlery biodegradable? (3R of plant starch cutlery) 

This article will explain whether plant starch cutlery is biodegradable or not. Other covered aspects will include: 

  • Is plant starch cutlery biodegradable?
  • Is plant starch cutlery natural?
  • Can plant starch cutlery be composted?
  • Is plant starch cutlery eco-friendly?
  • Can you recycle plant starch cutlery?
  • Can you reuse plant starch cutlery?
  • What is the future of plant starch cutlery?
  • FAQs

Is plant starch cutlery biodegradable?

Plant starch cutlery is 60% biodegradable but it can not be categorised as biodegradable waste. The primary reason behind this is that such waste (as it also contains plastics) can contaminate other biodegradable waste and can aggravate the waste problem. 

Plant starch cutlery is made from both renewable (plant-based materials) and non-renewable (conventional plastics) sources. About 60% is made from renewable sources such as plant-based materials while the remaining is made from plastics. 

Owing to the use of plastics, plant starch cutlery can not be composted because the soil and natural ecosystem may be damaged because of it. However, you can recycle and reuse plant starch cutlery to save the environmental impact of plant starch cutlery. 

Is plant starch cutlery natural?

Plant starch cutlery is made from 60%-70% renewable materials that include plant sources while the remaining 30%-40% is made from non-renewable sources that include plastics. The most common plastic used is Polypropylene. 

As regards the question of whether plant starch cutlery is natural or non-natural, the answer is both. Plant starch cutlery is made from both natural and non-natural materials. 

The primary reason behind this mixture is to achieve good utility while also ensuring that the planet and the environment are protected from environmental anomalies. 

However, since plant starch material is not natural entirely, the cutlery made from plant starch material also will not be called entirely natural. 

However, it can be regarded as a good step toward sustainability and environmental consideration with hopes that future improvisation will lead to the further negation of the non-natural aspect of plant starch material. 

It also may be said that such interventions are not far away since biodegradable plastics made from plant sources and animal sources (sperm cell DNA) have already been introduced. It is only a matter of time before such interventions will be incorporated in the products such as plant starch cutlery leading to a more sustainable approach. 

Is plant starch cutlery biodegradable?

Plant starch cutlery can not be regarded as biodegradable because there is the use of plastics in plant starch material. The main reason behind this is the acquisition of the required utility. 

Regarding biodegradability, it is generally accepted that natural materials are readily biodegradable as compared to products made from non-natural materials.

This is mainly because natural materials have the necessary nutritional content that can be used by the microbes as their food and, in term, they degrade the waste so that it can become a part of the system again. 

Before we move further, let us redefine what biodegradability is and why it is important. Biodegradability is defined as the breakdown of waste into simpler waste by the action of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, or decomposers. 

Biodegradability is essential because it ensures that there is no waste accumulation otherwise, there can be negative environmental repercussions. 

However, it is not all that dark and gloomy when it comes to plant starch cutlery. More than 60% of the material that makes up plant starch cutlery is biodegradable. However, the reason why plant starch cutlery is termed non-biodegradable is the fact that it can not be discarded with biodegradable waste. 

The main reason behind this is that the plastic content of plant starch cutlery may contaminate or spoil the other biodegradable waste and this can lead to a more aggravated waste issue. 

Can plant starch cutlery be composted?

Let us now assess what is the composting possibility when it comes to plant starch cutlery. The general rule of thumb is that natural and organic material can be composted and thus can offer a number of advantages to the planet and also the people. 

However, there are some stringent rules or principles when it comes to composting. These are:

  • The material should not be non-biodegradable 
  • The material should not be toxic 
  • The material should have organic content 
  • The material should not emit harmful fumes 

As for the case of plant starch cutlery, more than 60% of its content is a good candidate for composting because it adheres to all the necessary conditions or prerequisites of composting. 

However, the problem is with the plastic content that is used in the plant starch cutlery to improve the utilitarian aspect of plant starch cutlery. 

Plastic is a synthetic polymer which is made from the derivatives of petroleum products or fossil fuels. It is non-biodegradable and considered not to be eco-friendly. 

Since plant starch cutlery is also made of plastic content, it is not suggested or advised to compost plant starch cutlery. The main reason is that compost is used as a natural fertiliser.

Can you imagine what will happen if you put plastic in your soil? Not only will the soil quality degrade but the effects will also be reciprocated on the natural flora and fauna. In conclusion, there will be more harm done than good if plant starch cutlery is composted. 

Is plant starch cutlery eco-friendly?

The answer to this question actually varies on the perspective with which the issue is perceived and analysed. As Rumi put it, “The world exists as you perceive it. It is not what you see but how you see it. It is not what you hear but how you hear it. And, it is not what you feel but how you feel it.” 

The same is the case for plant starch cutlery. If plant starch cutlery is compared with conventional cutlery materials which are made entirely of plastics, it is an eco-friendly step because there is the inclusion of biodegradable and bio-renewable resources. 

However, if you consider the biodegradable and compostable aspects of plant starch cutlery, then it will not be eco-friendly. The primary reason is that because of the use of plastic content (which although is a minority), plant starch cutlery can neither be disposed of with biodegradable waste nor can it be composted. 

Can you recycle plant starch cutlery?

Since the possibilities of biodegradation and composting have been ruled out, the consumers will now rely on the last resort left. This is recycling. Fortunately, there is good news here. plant starch cutlery can be recycled. 

Recycling is defined as the reuse of a product or material after changes and modifications to it. It is much better than producing a product from scratch because when a product is recycled, there is less use of energy and resources. Above all, when plant starch cutlery is recycled, there will be no waste. 

As the waste of plant starch cutlery is considered non-biodegradable, recycling is one of the best approaches to make sure that the negative impacts of plastics used in plant starch cutlery are at least avoided as much as possible. 

To make sure that you recycle your plant starch cutlery, you can either discard them in green-coloured dustbins that are intended for recycling waste. 

However, if you have any reservations or insecurities, you may go one step ahead and directly transport the waste of plant starch cutlery to recycling centres. Almost all recycling centres will accept plant starch cutlery happily. 

Can you reuse plant starch cutlery? (3R) 

There is a famous 3R approach in environmental sciences. Each R represents an advantageous action not only for the planet but also for the people. The three Rs are: 

  • Reduce
  • Reuse 
  • Recycle 

We have discussed the recycling aspect of plant starch cutlery, let us not focus on the reusing aspect of it. 

It is possible to reuse plant starch cutlery a number of times because of the properties of plant starch cutlery which include being durable, resistant, tough, and exceptional heat tolerance. 

The main reason why plant starch cutlery can be reused is because of the plastic material that gives off the physical properties. Rumi once expressed that your pain will become your cure. The same is the case with plant starch cutlery. 

The material that makes plant starch cutlery non-biodegradable and non-eco-friendly is the same material that lets users and consumers reuse plant starch cutlery that saves or reduces the overall environmental impact of plant starch cutlery. 

What is the future of plant starch cutlery?

We have discussed a lot about the environmental relation of plant starch cutlery. Let us now explore some of the future trends. 

As of now, plant starch cutlery is made from both renewable and nonrenewable resources. The use of non-renewable resources is the main cause why plant starch cutlery is regarded as non-biodegradable. 

It is imperative to say that the future trends in plant starch cutlery would include plant starch cutlery made from 100% renewable resources. Much of this work is already underway. 

A good example is biodegradable plastics that are made from natural sources such as: 

  • Sugarcane
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar beets
  • Mushrooms
  • Sperm cells DNA 

Such plastics will not only be biodegradable and eco-friendly but there also will not be any compromise on the utilitarian aspects of plant starch cutlery as well. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that plant starch cutlery is made from both renewable (plant-based materials) and non-renewable (conventional plastics) sources. About 60% is made from renewable while the remaining is made from plastics. 

Owing to this, although plant starch cutlery is 60% biodegradable, it can not be categorised as biodegradable waste. The primary reason behind this is that such waste (as it also contains plastics) can contaminate other biodegradable waste and can aggravate the waste problem. 

Owing to the use of plastics, plant starch cutlery can not be composted because the soil and natural ecosystem may be damaged because of it. However, you can recycle and reuse plant starch cutlery to save the environmental impact of plant starch cutlery. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Is plant starch cutlery biodegradable?

What materials is plant starch cutlery made of?

It is made of natural materials such as corn, potatoes and plastic materials. More than 60% of the material is renewable. 

How should plant starch cutlery be disposed of?

Plant starch cutlery can be disposed of in recycling bins as this material can be safely recycled. It will not be wise to simply throw it away in normal dustbins or mix it with other biodegradable waste. 

References

  • Chen, Z., Ko, T., & Wei, W. (2011). An investigation into sustainable materials for reusable cutlery.
  • Elvidge, C., Chou, K., Hsieh, D., & Uppal, J. (2009). An Investigation into Biodegradable Utensils.
  • Stentiford, E. I. (1996). Composting control: principles and practice. In The science of composting (pp. 49-59). Springer, Dordrecht.
  • Piemonte, V. (2011). Bioplastic wastes: the best final disposition for energy saving. Journal of Polymers and the Environment, 19(4), 988-994.

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