Consumer Reports: Eco-friendly paper plates

July 8, 2013 6:45:25 PM PDT
With all the outdoor eating you are doing this summer, whether you are hosting a barbecue or you just want a break from washing the dishes, paper plates can come in handy.

If you're worried about adding more paper to landfills, there are plates you can toss in your compost pile.

Consumer reports put paper plates to the test. Paper plates are perfect for a no-fuss party or barbeque. The tossed plates do add up. What about those plates that claim they will break down right in your compost? Consumer Reports checked out two Chinet Classic White plates and Hefty Basic plates.

Hefty says its plates are "biodegradable in home composting." Chinet says its eco-friendly plates are made from "recycled materials" and they're also compostable.

Tester Bernie Deitrick composted the plates at Consumer Reports' headquarters.

"I put one of each plate into a separate compost bin and then I went back each week and checked on the progress," said Bernie Deitrick from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports also composted two regular types of paper plates, Dixie Ultra and America's Choice, for comparison sake. Of course, you do not want your plates breaking down while you are eating, so staffers checked out the plates at a company picnic.

Then there was the chili test. Deitrick scooped one cup of chili onto each plate, and the plates were left on a lab counter to see if chili leaked through. It didn't. But all of the plates did let some steam through. The driest were the regular Dixie Ultras.

As for the composting, the Hefty plates disintegrated after three weeks. The Chinet after five weeks. It took longer, but both of the regular plates broke down, too in about three months.

Consumer Reports take, if going green is important, the Chinet or the hefty basics plates can get the job done the fastest, and they don't cost a lot more.


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