As the team here at Your Brand Cafe works to expand our eco-friendly product line, we wanted to be sure to inform our customers as to what eco-friendly really means and how to properly dispose of the products purchased from us.
Your Brand Cafe now proudly offers an Eco-Friendly alternative to clear cold cups, white paper hot cups, lids for both, and food containers. All of these items can conveniently be located on our website. Eco-Friendly products are great and have the opportunity to be a wonderful help to the environment if utilized and disposed of correctly. In order to provide some insight to the proper way to treat our PLA and bagasse products, we want to first supply you with the knowledge of how those products were made.
Your everyday plastic container is made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic which is the most common and most recycled plastic on earth. But if you’re looking for a compostable product as opposed to a recyclable product, your best bet is probably our PLA-lined hot cups and dessert cups, PLA clear cups, or our bagasse food containers.
PLA plastic – or if you want to get all scientific, polylactic acid plastic – is compostable, biodegradable, and is derived from renewable resources like sugarcane or corn starch. Because of its natural make-up, some PLA naturally breaks down when exposed to the environment (as opposed to PET plastic which needs to be recycled in order to be reused). Other types of PLA require a specific environment in which to degrade. I’ll explain what that means for your plans of disposal later (AKA: 3 paragraphs from now).
Your Brand Cafe not only offers PLA cold and hot cups and lids, we also offer food containers made from bagasse. I bet I can guess what you’re thinking: Cool, Ashley, food containers made from bagasse… that means nothing to me because I don’t what bagasse is. Don’t worry, neither did I. So I did what every professional writer/blogger would do… I Googled it. Bagasse is made from the leftover residue after the extraction of juice from sugarcane. Pretty sweet, huh? (Insert drum punchline rimshot here; sweet… sugarcane… ha… okay, moving on.)
So let’s talk about the real issue with plastics in general: how to discard them. Before you recycle any of our plastic products, be sure to check the recycling number embossed on the bottom of the product. On the PET cups, you’ll see a 1. This same recycling number will be found on other items such as soda bottles, water bottles, salad dressing containers, etc. You can toss this plastic into the recycling bin and know that it will most likely be recycled into furniture, polar fleece, tote bags, and maybe even new containers.
On the PLA cups, you’ll see a 7. Using this handy-dandy cheat sheet, you’ll see that recycling symbol 7 encompasses miscellaneous plastic. Don’t let this confuse you. Just because a recycling symbol is located on the bottom of these cups doesn’t insinuate that you need to recycle them. The best way to dispose of these cups is to send them to an industrial composter. While PLA is biodegradable, the process of biodegradation (the breakdown process that occurs naturally) could take years which means composting is the safest and most efficient way to be sure ordering these cups is even worth your time. If you’re going to purchase the PLA cups and then toss them in the recycling bin, you’re actually doing a disservice to the planet. We suggest buying an industrial composter or finding a compost farmer who will pick up your composted materials, take them to his farm, and use them to create soil. Having your customers participate in composting is a fun way to get them excited about your green business practices. Trust me, they’ll love it and appreciate it.
And you’ll notice that the bagasse containers are not given a recycling number. That’s because the bagasse containers purely belong in a compost bin where they can be broken down by either earthworms or natural microorganisms and eventually turn to soil.
Hopefully, this explained the basics of what we mean when we say “Eco-Friendly.” I’m no scientist, but I tried my best to break down all the crazy terminology you’ll see all over our Eco-Friendly page. If you ever have any questions about our products, you can always email us or give us a call.
Until next time,
The Team at Your Brand Cafe