You may be familiar with the movement of trading single-use plastics for a more sustainable alternative. Hashtags like #PlasticPollution and #SkipTheStraw show the growing awareness of the harmful consequences of single-use plastics.
At Duke Farms, we committed to sustainability by using Eco-Products kitchenware made from renewable and recycled resources. Our Farm Barn Cafe visitors can enjoy a meal or drink served via eco-friendly plates and utensils. The kitchenware came labeled with the word, "compostable" so we decided to put that to the test by experimenting in our composting operations. Land Steward Sarah DiVito was eager to head this project!
Sarah started by adding all kitchenware components to our pre-existing compost pile.
Note how there are two of each component; one whole and one shredded.
There were several green utensil fragments scattered throughout the pile. Sarah noted the tiny size of the fragments and how they would probably disappear given enough time. Similar to eggshells, the fragments had a slow decomposition rate. The unshredded green spoon was one of the only nearly-whole items in the compost; upon closer inspection, it seemed to be covered in microorganisms digesting the matter.
A few weeks later on 10/15/2018, Sarah carefully sorted through the entire pile.
The remnants of the kitchenware could fit in the palm of her hand.
She reported that the remains were "so brittle that if I made a fist, they would crumble between my fingers."
Within six weeks of the experiment, the first batch of compost was completed. With the exception of a few materials (avocado skins/pits, eggshell, hay, and woodchips) none of its ingredients were recognizable. Sarah was happy to share that the compost smelled like soil and earth instead of fermenting fruit or coffee grounds. Since then, the compost pile has been slowly decreasing in temperature, resting at around 75 degrees (compared to its "cooking" temperature of 120-160 degrees). The low temperature, lack of recognizable ingredients, earthy smell, rich brown color, and crumbly consistency indicate that this batch of compost is ready for use.
- Roughly 75% of the Eco-products items we used seemed to have fully composed after 5 weeks
(Additional time yields a higher percentage)
- The green cutlery takes a little longer to decompose (but it is still fully compostable!)
- The compostable kitchenware needs to "cook" at temperatures of 120-160 degrees in order to properly decompose