• Tater Ware to the rescue!

    After all, it’s the only planet we’ve got
    by Jon Guthrie

    Having trouble going green?

    Several Pacific Grove merchants in the food-services lines of endeavor have reported difficulties switching to biodegradable tableware and take-home containers.  Said one, identification withheld by request: “I believe that the people working for my restaurant have searched everywhere for legal stuff to use.  Yes, I know that Pacific Grove’s City Council outlawed certain synthetics, but what am I going to replace that old-fashioned stuff with?  Replacements just don’t seem to be affordable.”

    Well … continuing to use petroleum-based plastics may prove to be even less affordable.  First concerned with the impact on wildlife, more disadvantages to those petroleum-based foams are being discovered almost daily.  Not only are fauna eager to confuse that strikingly white material with sandwich makings, a German research center discovered in 2006 that styrene can cause cancer in humans.  Styrene has been around for quite a while.  Production began in 1943 after Monsanto, under contract to the U.S. Army, developed styrene as a plastic used in the production of synthetic rubber.

    A few months after learning the dangers of styrene, the California city of Oakland banned petroleum-based plastic-foam for use as dishware or take-out containers.  San Francisco followed Oakland’s lead, but did their neighbor one better by adding petroleum-based bags to its ban.  Last year, the City of Pacific Grove followed suit by outlawing food-service items made of plastic foam.

    Today, the most recent “oh, no” discovery has to do with those ubiquitous plastic bottles that contain water and other beverages.  Seeming to be absolutely safe, except for their role in overflowing dumps and landfills (they’re non-biodegradable, remember), scientists found that many of the bottles are absolutely unsafe on their own.  Not only are thrown-away vessels enduringly pesky, they have proven to be excellent carriers of germs and bacteria, which can be easily ingested.  The result?  A cool drink of water is no longer considered as cool as it once was.  The economics factor of petroleum-based foamware savings might be looked on as a bit less favorable than the economics of a few good salmonella to pass around or, say, a couple of cases of cancer.

    Biodegradable Food Service sells 100% biodegradable and compostable products that are environmentally safe and are being used throughout the food service industry. Biodegradable Food Service, LLC, is located at 16618 Wagon Trail, Bend, OR 97707.  Phone 341.593.2191.  The company’s website can be viewed at www.bdfs.net.

    Pepper’s, however, one of Pacific Grove’s leading eateries (on Forest Avenue a few doors down the hill from Lighthouse) located a solution that doesn’t seem all that hard to manage, money-wise.  Pepper’s turned to a company called Biodegradable Food Services, the manufacturer of Tater Ware, for help.  Lisa, manager of Peppers, advised that if it’s something in the form of biodegradable dishware you’re looking for, try Tater Ware (or another BFS product).”

    Tater Ware, through Biodegradable Food Services, provides a host of such items as its Bio-Coffee (cups), which are made from sugar cane.  There’s also BioGrade 300 (cutlery), Bio Wrap (for packaging), and Nature Ware (drinking vessels).  All are made from edible (hence biodegradable) materials such as potatoes, cane, beets, or corn.  The selected foodstuff is harvested and its starch removed by grinding and filtering.  The starch then becomes sugar and the sugar is altered into a polymer, a substance consisting of large molecules that are made of many small, repeating units called monomers.

    This process, which is called polymerization, can result in PLA plastics.  The advantages are many and include PLA plastics using about half as much fossil fuel to produce as petroleum-based plastics.  These products can be placed in the microwave, discarded PLS products can biodegrade in as little as 45 days, and discards can be blended into compost heaps where they will degrade back into carbon (unless deprived of oxygen).

    Already, many large chain-stores are honoring PLA plastics requirements.  Walmart is refusing to purchase any goods not certified (by government standards) as biodegradable.  Starbucks is turning its entire chain green.  Espresso Royale, a mid-west chain, has converted to biodegradable cups and lids.  Denny’s is leading out with an effort to help save our planet.

    And here in Pacific Grove?

    Pepper’s, previously mentioned, has brought in Tater Ware.  Archie’s All-American Dinner (Tin Cannery) is going green.  The 17th Street Grill serves it’s food on biodegradable dishes.  Many other establishments are lining up to help protect our planet.

    What can you do to help out?

    Products that work in the professional world will also work at home; buy biodegradable!  Ask if your favorite restaurant is going green.  If not, complain and change restaurants.  Patronize stores that are environmentally friendly.  Start your own compost and add to it all of your biodegradable cast-aways.  Think about what else you can do to “go green” … and then make your ideas into a work plan.

    Why?  This, after all, is the only planet that we’ve got!

    posted to Cedar Street Times on February 27, 2009

    Topics: Uncategorized


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