Eco-Friendly Gifts Blog: Our Eco-Friendly Picnic Sets
In this blog, we will be looking at our Eco-Friendly Picnic Sets, which contain many biodegradable and compostable alternatives to single use plastic. We will be looking at the reason we made this Picnic Set, as well as the science and data behind plastic pollution.
Biodegradable Cups, Plates and Cutlery
Due to the rise of plastic pollution, and the public awareness that is growing along side it, plastic has taken a big hit in the way it's looked at. Rightly so. The effect plastic pollution is having on our natural environment is devastating, and entire ecosystems are under strain as a result.
An alternative to conventional plastic is bioplastic, a group of materials similar to conventional plastics, but with a couple of crucial differences.
Conventional plastic is produced from fossil fuels, and does not have the ability to biodegrade. Common conventional plastics being produced today include PET, PE and PVC.
Because these plastics are produced from fossil fuels, they have a high carbon footprint from cradle to grave. Because they can't biodegrade, they just break down into smaller and smaller chunks of plastic, often staying present in the natural environment for hundreds of years.
If a material is biodegradable, it can break down into CO2, biomass and water with the aid of microorganisms. It does not mean that once a biodegradable alternative is throw on the ground, it will magically disappear, harmlessly into the environment in a short space of time. This is a key fact which many marketers fail to include in their campaigns, and it's a point we will talk more about later on in this blog.
Bioplastics offer a solution to both of these problems, but there have to be certain conditions to enjoy the full benefit, which is a key point.
There are three types of bioplastic when considering their base, and their biodegradability.
The first group of bioplastics make up the top left of the grid. Biobased non biodegradable bioplastics are produced from renewable resources, but cannot biodegrade. In terms of their carbon footprint, these bioplastics have a far lower carbon footprint than conventional plastics, because they are produced from renewable resources.
This is because the renewable resources used to make the bioplastic material actively take in CO2 from the atmosphere. Sugar cane, for example, is used to produce biobased PE. The sugar cane when growing takes in CO2, and stores the carbon in its own biomass, as well as the surrounding soil.
The next group of bioplastics are in the top right of the grid. Biobased biodegradable bioplastics are what many of the compostable items in the Eco-Friendly Picnic Set are produced from. They have a lower carbon footprint relative to conventional plastics, as well as having the ability to biodegrade.
Our biodegradable cutlery will break down naturally over time, in most environments. However, there is no accurate time frame for when the cutlery will break down, and we strongly advise against littering. This means that potentially, items made from PLA could stay present in the natural environment for long periods of time, posing a threat to wildlife who attempt to ingest it.
This also goes for landfill. In landfill, there are two types of situation: anaerobic landfill, and aerobic landfill. Anaerobic means the landfill will have no oxygen present. In this situation, PLA is highly unlikely to biodegrade, as the necessary oxygen and microbes aren't present to aid the biodegradation. The PLA will just remain inert, and occupy space in the landfill.
In situations where there is oxygen present in landfill, PLA will biodegrade, but extremely slowly. Therefore, PLA should not end up in landfill, as both situations are not sustainable.
What should happen is industrial composting. They shouldn't be home composted, as they will take a long time to decompose.
Industrial composting means that higher temperatures, as well as several other conditions will be set constantly. These conditions are what's needed to break down the PLA into compost, within a year.
This is why we have developed LFHP Zero.
We have teamed up with an industrial composting partner to ensure all of your used compostable and biodegradable waste will be fully composted, leaving no waste going to landfill. The newly made compost will then be used to encourage growth in gardens and farms, creating a sustainable circle of production.
Bioplastic Vs Plastic
As previously mentioned, the two key differences between bioplastic and plastic are the raw materials, and the ability to biodegrade. In this section, we're going to look specifically at why these characteristics mean conventional plastic is dangerous, and should be replaced by bioplastic.
Recycling plastic is confusing, and leads to contamination. The way in which we recycle plastic differs council by council, county by county, and country by country.
With a system so diverse in the ways it deals with plastic recycling, it is so easy to get overloaded with wrong information. If one piece of plastic enters the incorrect waste stream, the whole batch surrounding that piece of plastic could be contaminated.
This means the entire batch of contaminated plastic will forego the recycling process, and will be sent to landfill or be incinerated.
LFHP Zero reduces this risk to zero, as we guarantee all compostable waste sent back to us using LFHP Zero will be fully composted. We will do the rest, ensuring that no waste goes to landfill. Easy peasy.
The ideology behind recycling is largely based on false ideals. In order to recycle plastic, new plastic is required to supplement the quality of the plastic polymers. Is it really recycling if you're adding fresh plastic to the mix every time plastic has to be recycled?
On top of this, plastics can on average by recycled a maximum of three times. Recycling just delays the inevitable day when that batch of plastic is sent to landfill. It's a ridiculous notion that you can fight plastic pollution...with more plastic.
Only 9% of the plastic ever created has been recycled. It's a hugely inefficient system, and one that relies on mass export to developing countries to keep the rates high, and the costs low.
Recycling was actually created by the same companies producing the waste in the first place. Keep America Beautiful was a campaign run by several large companies who were mass producing items, which were then being littered.
From this point onwards, the onus of recycling and dealing with plastic waste has been put onto the consumer. Whatever happens to waste, such as used plastic bottles, can be shrugged of by the large companies producing them in mass.
With biodegradable and compostable bioplastics, there is an easily attainable circular production process that leaves zero waste going to landfill.
The materials (corn starch in this case) are grown, then processed into bioplastic, which is then composted using our free post back scheme.
This compost is then used to grow more renewable resources. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Conventional plastic (a common type being PET) is produced from fossil fuels.
In particular, crude oil is the main material used to produce plastic. Crude oil is a non-renewable resource, making it completely unsustainable.
It is senseless to build whole economies and systems of manufacturing on a resource that is guaranteed to run out. Some predict that this day will be in our lifetimes - what will happen then?
Bioplastics are produced from renewable resources, so can, in theory, be produced sustainably as long as sunlight and a healthy environment remains.
Marine Plastic Pollution
Much of the anger against plastic producers comes from the effect plastic is pollution is having on the marine environment. With many sea creature suffering from coming into contact with plastic debris, population numbers are starting to dwindle.
Turtles now have a 22% chance of death from coming into contact from just one piece of plastic. This high death rate is due to plastic causing multiple threats to marine life. Turtles are often caught in abandoned fishing nets, which can trap them, and result in them drowning.
Once a piece of plastic is ingested by a marine animal, can stay in their stomach not being processed. As more and more plastic enters the stomach, the animals feel less of a need to go hunting for the nutrition they need to survive. This is from the plastic in their stomach making them feel full, when they are just full of plastic instead. Eventually, this effect could be lethal, by inadvertent starvation.
With this blog, we've outlined what benefit our Eco-Friendly Picnic Sets have over conventional plastic filled hampers, as well as why we have developed them.
Having a day out with your closest friends and family is always a joy, and if there is no plastic involved, even better. We want to facilitate you having a great day out, whilst reducing your plastic footprint, and staying kind to the environment.
Gifts For Environmentalists
Our picnic set is just one of our growing range of gifts for environmentalists.
Each gift is designed around reducing plastic waste sent to landfill, which is why they are perfect gifts for environmentalists.
If you would like to read more about going plastic free and all things sustainable, feel free to subscribe to our email list at the bottom of the page.