Not only are polystyrene fast food containers usually not recyclable, but they also take eons to break down in a landfill, can emit harmful compounds, and require petroleum to create. Using paper is one alternative, but Hong Kong-based company Innovasians is now offering another – 100% biodegradable containers made from waste straw left over after wheat harvesting.
The straw used in the process comes from China, and would otherwise be burnt. The technology itself is Canadian. Although the production process is confidential, the finished containers are composed of 60% straw, and 40% ... well, something else. Not only are they biodegradable, but they are also reportedly non-toxic, microwavable, dishwasher-safe (and thus reusable), and stable at temperatures from -40 to 260ºC (-40 to 500ºF). No petroleum-based materials are used in their production, nor are any toxins released into the environment.
The containers are currently in use by three Asian clients, although additional buyers are being sought. There’s no word on how the cost of the straw-based containers compares to that of other materials.