From: Glenn Hasek, Green Lodging News, More from this Affiliate
Published November 12, 2007 05:22 PM

Compostable Cups, Plates and Cutlery Offer Many Environmental Benefits

Three wire stories caught my interest this week and they all had the same theme: compostable cups, plates and utensils. In the first article, a restaurant called the Grille Zone in Boston was featured. It composts all of the items described above. In fact, there are no trashcans in the eating area and the restaurant produces an average of just 15 pounds of waste per day. The restaurant does not even own a dumpster.

In the second article, Hilton Garden Inn announced the introduction of the ecotainer, an environmentally friendly coffee cup, in more than 340 locations across North America. The all-natural hot beverage cup is coated with a corn-based plastic that allows the cups to be composted, rather than landfilled. The cups will help to reduce the 25 million pounds of petroleum-based plastics needed each year to make conventional plastic-lined paper cups.

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In the third release, Marriott International, Inc. announced that it will switch to compostable utensils, plates and cups at its headquarters in Bethesda, Md. The items are made from sugar cane and corn starch. Marriott says the change will lessen the load on area landfills by eliminating 16 tons of Styrofoam and 5.5 tons of plastic forks, knives and spoons annually.

Kudos to the Grille Zone, Hilton and Marriott for making these changes. I strongly encourage Hilton and Marriott to expand their programs, and would love to see other chains and independents get on board as well. Where does one purchase compostable utensils, cups and plates? Here is a list of companies to check out.

Eatware
International Paper
U.S. Huhtamaki
Biocorp Inc.
VegWare
Fabri-Kal
Eco-Products
Genpak
Biodegradable Food Service, LLC
Excellent Packaging & Supply

If more properties transitioned to these types of products, the positive impact on the volume of waste sent to landfills would be significant. Compostable items have other advantages as well: They require less energy to produce and provide a way to show your guests, as well as meeting planners, how committed you are to sustainability. One final point: Before purchasing compostables, be sure you have a process in place to properly manage their disposal/composting.

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