What Does Element Biodegradable and Polystyrene Food Packaging NOT Have in Common?

Element biodegradable and polystyrene food packaging both serve a common purpose especially with takeaways, but the comparison stops just there.


Element foodware

MATERIALS USED

Polystyrene

Polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer.

It’s best known for its insulation and light-weight qualities, being made of 95% air. It is used for many types of products, especially our daily coffee-to-go cups.

In fact not so long ago, the Styrofoam cup was the perfect solution to holding a hot drink without scalding your hand! The craze started 30 years ago as a cheap and great insulation for keeping coffee hot and fingers not.  But this bad boy is the worst-of-the-worst when it comes to disposable coffee cups. Styrofoam cups never fully degrade even after 500 years from now.

Polystyrene products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable, heavily polluting and disappearing commodity.

Polystyrene packaging typically comes in white colour.

 

Element

Element is made from origo, a bioplastic made from non-GM corn and yam starch. Bioplastics, recycled paper and bamboo are all eco-friendly alternative packaging that biodegrade when composted.

Origo is made by making corn and yam into flour and starch, hence called starch-based bioplastics, which is then blended with polypropylene (PP).  PP is added to ensure water-proofing and heat resistance.

A good percentage (70%) of corn and yam starch blended with PP (30%) forms the basis of Origo, a significant reduction of plastics used compared to conventional plastic packaging.  As PP is assimilated with the corn and yam starch, it will fully biodegrade together with the corn and yam.

Polypropylene is a resin-based substance, and as pointed out by the Environmental Working Group (USA)   polypropylene is neither classifiable nor likely to be a human carcinogen, not suspected to be an environmental toxin and not suspected of being bioaccumulative

Origo is extremely versatile allowing Element to manufacture a range of products – in a variety of different shapes and sizes – that combines convenience with green credentials. And, in a break from the traditional white or “earthy” colours normally associated with disposable foodware, the Element products are available in a selection of eye catching colours ranging from Midnight Black to Citron Yellow.

DISPOSAL

Polystyrene

  • Recycling polystyrene involves complex chemical processes and uses more energy than can be offset by recycling it.
  • In addition the market for recycling is very small and shrinking making it economically non-viable and hence discouraging recycling agencies from accepting it.
  • Polystyrene recycling is not "closed loop". Due to the chemical process the turns polystyrene beads into EPS,  polystyrene cups are not remanufactured into cups again but into other products, such as packing filler and cafeteria trays
  • Thermal recycling could be an effective re-use of polystyrene waste, its viability is offset by the cost of transporting loads of light, bulky polystyrene to recycling centres.

The difficulty of recycling EPS was a main reason New York City banned the use of single-use EPS products including cups, bowls, plates, takeout containers and trays and packing peanuts in July 2015.

Element

If recycling is defined is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects with the aim of extracting the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste, then biodegradable products are a viable sustainable alternatives.     

A biodegradable product that breaks down quickly and results in a by-product that is rich in minerals and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and hence is ideal for gardening and farming.

Unlike the so called ‘recyclable’ foodware that cannot be recycled when they are contaminate with food scraps, biodegradable foodware  such as Element can be disposed off as green waste  to disintegrate into rich, non-toxic humus for use as fertilizers.

Biodegradable disposables, especially for food packaging, have increasing been used in response for the need to make our waste more eco-friendly.

Element foodware can also be reused up to three times without compromising its quality.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

Polystyrene

  • These products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable and heavily polluting resource.
  • The process of making polystyrene pollutes the air and creates large amounts of liquid and solid waste.
  • The product does not biodegrade. It crumbles into fragments that have no expiration date. Styrofoam cups never fully degrade even after 500 years.
  • Polystyrene dumped in the environment will persist indefinitely as litter and breaking up into pieces and find its way into our waterways and the ocean. It harms marine life both mechanically and chemically – choking and clogging their digestive systems and when these plastic feeding fish find their way to our dinner table, they harm us too.

McDonald’s bowed to pressure from environmental groups and shareholders, and replaced its polystyrene foam cups for hot drinks with a paper alternative.

Element

  • Element is made from origo, a bioplastic made from non-GM corn and yam starch.
  • The corn that is used, which is the main ingredient of Origo, is grown specially for the purpose of making Element products not corn used for consumption as food and hence compromised.
  • The process of making Element is 72% more carbon efficient than traditional plastics, such polystyrene.
  • With the correct disposal, it biodegrades after 90 days producing a non-toxic hums waste that can be used as fertilizers.

HEALTH CONCERNS

Polystyrene

  • Polystyrene contains both styrene and benzene, two dangerous chemical compounds linked to human health risks.
  • Polystyrene food packaging leaches the toxin styrene when it comes into contact with warm foods or drinks, alcohol, oils and acidic foods.
  • Styrene has been shown to be toxic to the nervous system, haematological, cytogenetic, carcinogenic, and disruptive to menstrual cycles.
  • Studies suggest that styrene mimics estrogens in the body and can therefore disrupt normal hormone functions, possibly contributing to thyroid problems, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related problems, as well as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Element

  • Element products are strong durable and leach proof and can go from the freezer to microwave, withstanding temperatures between -20°C and
  • They are oil and water proof, as well as being both acid and alkali resistant 120 °C.
  • Even the by-product of its biodegradation is non-toxic.