This tableware made from bamboo and sugar waste biodegrades in 60 days

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As importantly, it’s nearly as cheap as plastic. Single-use tableware like cups, plates, and to-go containers are a huge source of waste. Even if they’re deemed compostable , they might still end up in a landfill, where they won’t break down without the specific conditions found in composting facilities. And eco-friendly food containers are often more expensive than plastic, and that upfront cost can be a barrier to adoption for both consumers and restaurants. Now, scientists say they’ve found a solution: tableware that can break down naturally in 60 days and is more affordable than compostable plastic, because it’s made out of sugarcane waste and bamboo. Read Full Story

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This startup’s bacteria-filled vats turn food waste into compostable plastic

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Food waste from a restaurant or cafeteria could be turned into compostable foodware for those same restaurants or cafeterias. When it ends up in a landfill, food waste is a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions. A Toronto-based startup called Genecis , part of Y Combinator’s latest cohort, turns it into something valuable instead: compostable plastic that can replace plastic made from petroleum. Read Full Story

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Pepsi, Nestlé, and Bacardi are all using this new plastic-like packaging that’s compostable anywhere

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The plastic is made by bacteria and will break down in your home compost bin, a landfill, or even the ocean. A new bottle in development for Bacardi looks like ordinary plastic. But if it ends up in a landfill or the ocean—or a backyard compost bin—the material will completely biodegrade. Called PHA, or polyhydroxyalkanoate, the plant-based material will soon start showing up in all kinds of packaging on store shelves. Read Full Story

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Plant this disposable face mask when you’re done, and it’ll sprout flowers

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Hundreds of billions of masks create a lot of waste. We need to think differently. Disposable masks are necessary during COVID-19. But we’re burning through them at an astounding rate . Every minute we throw away 3 million masks, which adds up to 129 billion per month. To make matters worse, most of these masks are made of plastic fibers, which are more prone to break down into microplastics than plastic bags or water bottles. Read Full Story

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This new recycling plant uses steam to recycle ‘unrecyclable’ plastic

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The new British plant will break down the chemical bonds in plastic so they can be reconstituted, processing 80,000 pounds of plastic waste a year. Most of the 360-billion-plus metric tons of plastic manufactured each year isn’t recycled. Some of that’s due to laziness—in the U.S., where plastic bottles can be easily recycled almost everywhere, the vast majority still end up in the trash. But other types of plastic are so technically challenging to recycle that recyclers don’t find it economically feasible. If you put these in the recycling bin, they end up being incinerated . Read Full Story

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This new delivery service cuts down on takeout waste by sending your food in reusable packaging

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Just give your old ones to the driver when your next order arrives. If you order from DeliverZero, a third party delivery service in New York City, your food will look different than the usual pile of plastic containers: instead, it will come in reusable clamshells. Then, the next time you order takeout from the platform, you can hand over those containers to the delivery driver and they’ll be returned to a participating restaurant, washed, and reused for another delivery. Read Full Story

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These hungry superworms happily munch through plastic

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A superworm can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects. Recycling seems like a simple cure for our plastic addiction: Just take the plastic we have and make it into new items. But problems abound. Current technology mostly creates plastic of a lower quality than it was before, many types of plastic aren’t recyclable at all, and much of the plastic is floating in the ocean, not even in the recycling stream. So it’s vital that we find new ways to break down plastic, and scientists have just discovered one: a superworm that can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects like mealworms. Read Full Story

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Green is good, right? Consumers don’t always see it that way

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Researchers have found that consumers think eco-friendly products are less effective than their traditional, more polluting counterparts. Scroll through Instagram, and you’ll notice many brands touting their eco-friendly credentials. There’s an image of Allbirds, which uses sustainable wool to make high-tops, and Adidas, which is using plastic pulled out of the ocean to make running shoes. Blueland sells refillable cleaning spray bottles and tablets of soap that you dissolve in water, to cut down on waste. Grove makes toilet paper out of sustainable bamboo. Read Full Story

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Shifting to plant-based plastic is a start—but it can’t be the only solution to plastic waste

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It would take a major reshaping of global agriculture to generate enough material to replace petroleum-based plastic with plant-based ones. Circularity has to be the end goal. To solve our climate crisis, there’s no doubt that we need to change the way we create—and dispose—of everyday things. Nonrenewable fossil fuels are used to make a nearly endless list of items, from plastic forks to styrofoam packaging to synthetic fabrics to steel and concrete. Not only do these products require limited resources and significant amounts of energy to produce, they can be nearly impossible to get rid of. Our recycling system is inadequate, these materials take thousands of years to break down, and so our planet continues to fill up with trash . Read Full Story

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This folding coffee cup eliminates the need for a plastic lid

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Unocup won the Packaging category in the 2020 Innovation by Design Awards. Tom Chan was just a sophomore at Cooper Union in 2015 when he came up with the original Unocup concept: a single unit with an origami-like lid that you fold into place to seal liquid inside, eliminating the need for single-use plastic lids. Countless coffee-shop interviews and more than a thousand prototypes later, he and long-time friend Kaanur Papo founded Unocup, in 2019. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, they are now marketing their cup, a 100% plastic-free, compostable unit that replaces the traditional lid with paper folds that seal the drink tightly. “When people think of sustainable solutions,” Papo says, “they think of certain compromises that have to be made. What’s really exciting about this is that it’s a sustainable and practical solution at the same time.” Currently fulfilling small orders, ranging from 10 to 2,000 cups, that …

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