Compostables Were Meant To Save Us From Plastics. They’re Overflowing Landfills

From The Daily Caller

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

Originally intended to help alleviate plastic waste, compostable products are instead filling up landfills and wreaking havoc on recycling plants.

Compostable bags, cups and cutlery are designed to be even more environmentally friendly than their standard biodegradable counterparts. Like biodegradables, they are capable of breaking down into the soil, but compostables have the added benefit of releasing valuable nutrients into the soil when they decompose. Such nutrients can aid the growth of plants and other wildlife, making compostables the plastics of choice for environmental advocates.

Compostable use in the U.S. is rising dramatically, with the number of certified products climbing 80 percent in less than four years.

However, to properly break down, compostable products typically need to undergo high temperatures and moisture. Such conditions require placement in special industrial facilities. While a growing number of programs offer compostable disposal sites, a lack of proper labeling and public unawareness is resulting in many people simply throwing away their compostables in the trash, where they end up in landfills and fail to decompose.

“The vast majority of consumers don’t have an understanding of how composting works,” Anne Elsea, a spokeswoman for non-profit GreenBlue, told The Wall Street Journal.

The confusion is causing major compost programs to scale back or stop operations entirely.

New York City officials, for example, have decided to halt an expansion of a household compostables collection program after only 11 percent of the available organic waste was placed into their designated brown bins. After realizing the company that collects its waste cannot process compostable cups, London’s Heathrow Airport has asked two of its biggest coffee chains to stop using them.

VeganBottles with zero oil 100% biodegradable compostable made from sugar cane are seen on the production line at the Lyspackaging factory in Saintes

VeganBottles with zero oil 100% biodegradable compostable made from sugar cane are seen on the production line at the Lyspackaging factory in Saintes, France, September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Compostables can also cause major problems for recycling centers. Unaware that they cannot be recycled, many people inadvertently place compostable products in recycling bins, where they either get filtered into a landfill or contaminate recycling facilities. (RELATED: California’s Straw Ban Is Based On A 9-Year-Old’s Research And Won’t Help The Environment)

The unintended consequences of compostables reflect the negative effects of other environmentally friendly approaches to plastics.

A study by the Independent Institute found outright bans on plastic had an overall detrimental effect on the environment, determining that paper substitutes to polystyrene products typically produce more waste. After announcing they would phase out plastic straws in all of their coffee chains, Starbucks attracted scorn from the disabled community, arguing alternatives to plastic straws make their life an inconvenience.

Follow Jason on Twitter.

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January 23, 2019 2:20 am

Oh the plasticky of all this. Blows irony away.

January 23, 2019 2:22 am

“VeganBottles with zero oil”

Check out Vegan Leather:

Mostly Polyurethane….

January 23, 2019 2:23 am

“However, to properly break down, compostable products typically need to undergo high temperatures and moisture. ”

I don’t think so, I throw every organic compostable scrap I have into a cold bin in the garden.
No heat required, lots of worms, it breaks down perfectly well.
Cold composting is not as fast as hot, but does the same job.

Reply to  jeffrey
January 23, 2019 4:25 am

Are you talking actual compostable material, like food waste, or wood? Because this article is about ‘compostable’ plastics and the like.


Reply to  Schitzree
January 23, 2019 3:52 pm

I have not tried the compostable products mentioned in the article,
just assuming they decay in the same way as food waste and dead vegetation.

Reply to  jeffrey
January 23, 2019 4:06 pm

Then throw your compostable plastic in the bin goofy…sorry I mean Jeffery, and enjoy the emotions stired by your virtue signaling actions. Cant wait to hear how it works out for you.

Reply to  Bill
January 23, 2019 5:34 pm

@ Bill,
Sheesh, you a little touchy on this subject ?

Javert Chip
Reply to  Bill
January 23, 2019 5:50 pm


Well, Bill had a valid point. Jeffery’s initial post explicitly stated high temps and moisture were NOT required to biodegrade compostable plastics. Turns out, Jeffery admits he has zero experience to support his statement.

Unclear if Jeffery was virtue signaling or just shot himself in the foot.

Reply to  jeffrey
January 23, 2019 4:59 am

Cold compost? Never heard of such a thing. Every compost bin I’ve ever had (organic only) naturally heats and needs to be turned regularly. What would “Cold compost” look like? A stack of goo?

Reply to  Kenji
January 23, 2019 3:55 pm

Most organic decay occurs at ambient temperature perfectly OK,
it is relatively uncommon for so much material to be gathered together that heat builds up.

Reply to  Kenji
January 24, 2019 2:47 am

It is sometimes called vermi composting

Bryan A
Reply to  jeffrey
January 23, 2019 5:08 am

Proper composting produces heat in the process. For organic materials to compost the optimal temperature is between 40C – 60C (105F – 150F) and would appear quite hot to the touch.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 23, 2019 5:25 am

It looks like we all need to be educated by having a degree in :biology ,organic chemistry ,horticulture,farming, order to be able to recycle ‘correctly ‘./ sarc.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 23, 2019 10:49 am

I’ve heard of fires that started when decomposition got too hot.

Reply to  MarkW
January 24, 2019 12:46 pm

I used to own a commercial laundry. One Monday I opened up to the faint smell of smoke. It was a tall stack of laundered cloth pot-holders and I picked up the smoking stack which was very hot and took them outside. As the stack came apart and the air got to it the pile flashed into flame and completely burned. Those processes can generate a lot of heat.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 23, 2019 1:00 pm

My grandmother had a Compost bin, actually a three sided concrete area with a pile in it. Still remember one winter day while visiting for Christmas there was no snow on the top of it.

Reply to  Bryan A
January 23, 2019 4:02 pm

Hot composting and cold composting both work.
Do some research, it just depends on your needs.
Your food and garden waste will decay no matter what you do, unless you freeze or dessicate them.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  jeffrey
January 23, 2019 5:40 am

Old outhouses produced a black rich soil with a mild “earth” odor and could be used on gardens. Where I come from they were frozen for a couple of months.

D Anderson
Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 23, 2019 8:31 am

Every spring mom went out to harvest the rhubarb behind Uncle Herbie’s outhouse.

Reply to  jeffrey
January 23, 2019 12:17 pm

Worm’s can “compost” organic matter. There is a term called “veri-compost”, which seems to me akin to commentator jeffrey’s “cold” (as in: “just so”) compost.

Although these “composter”worms’ life cycle & efficiency “composting” have certain temperature parameters I assume this might be what commentator jeffrey meant when said “cold compost”. He didn’t specify, but seems he doesn’t turn a “hot” compost pile.

For general interest “compost” worms do not eat the organic scrap itself. They kind of sip up (not bite off) a succession of microbes that proliferate as they degradr the organic matter.

In warm climates there is a different “ideal”(efficiently adapted) variety of worm for vermi-composting than in cooler climates. Still, no matter what worms are used their microbial helpers degrading the organic do produce some heat; the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in those scraps enter somewhat into the rate of heat.

In closed vermi-compost systems one has to watch out for elevation of temperature; die off in the colony is a real risk. Worms can start to flee such heat & disperse; but, in an enclosed bin (impenetrable bottom/sides) they will crawl to the surface, or off to bin side with less heat.

Commentator jeffrey doesn’t have this visible manifestation of heat increase because his garden is the worms’ to move around in if heating increases during microbial activity. In enclosed vermi-composting always add new scraps to a constrained sector, not completely blanketing the entire surface; this gives worms in there somewhere (if neccessary) to get away from unsuitable conditions one might inadvertantly impose(ex: heat).

January 23, 2019 2:42 am

In Britain, the Guardian newspaper announced on January 11th that it will become the first national newspaper to switch to biodegradable wrapping

Rod Evans
Reply to  HorshamBren
January 23, 2019 3:01 am

There is something prophetic about the Guardian, a publication that used to have value, packing its bull s**t propaganda in biodegradable wrapping. I thought manure was the perfect material for biodegrading anyway.

Steve O
Reply to  Rod Evans
January 23, 2019 3:42 am

Now if only they would print their edition on softer paper, it would have a better, secondary use.

Reply to  Steve O
January 23, 2019 4:33 am

It’s still suitable for use wrapping fish and lining bird cages. Something never change.

Reply to  Steve O
January 23, 2019 5:07 am

Steve O

I wouldn’t dignify it with that re-purposing.

Reply to  HotScot
January 23, 2019 5:49 am

Even a budgie has some standards.

Thomas Ryan
Reply to  HotScot
January 23, 2019 8:36 am

Hot Scot
It worked for the old Sears catalogue in rural America when I was a lad.

Reply to  HorshamBren
January 23, 2019 4:36 am

Speaking of newspapers, mine comes in a plastic sleeve that protects it from wet weather. I keep those plastic sleeves and reuse them when I’m doing housecleaning or need to clean up a mess on the floor or the countertops. This saves some money that would otherwise be spent on those plastic gloves, and because the news sleeves are long enough to fit up to my elbow, I can use them to dispose of nasty little messes and used paper towels. The newspapers themselves go into a pile after they’re read, get bagged up and put into the trash bin where the trash people can pull them out at their depot.

Glass has always been something that could be recycled, so I do not understand the dislike of using it. And I used to know someone who made “jewelry” out of plastic straws, so you see, there is a secondary use for just about everything.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Sara
January 23, 2019 5:48 am

Sara, ~ 50% less energy is used in remanufacture with recycled glass plus saving the raw materials. Im not sure how much is used these days but 20 yrs ago 12million tons of containers were made annually in the US.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 23, 2019 7:50 am

Here in the northeastern US glass is no longer recycled, at least not on a large scale. The last glass recycling plant in the northeast closed its doors and all of the recycling centers now have no place to send it.

Glass is still being recycled on a local scale as a number of towns still collect it and crush it, using it for aggregate for road beds and for construction. (It’s a lot cheaper to do that than to pay a sand & gravel operation for aggregate.) Otherwise glass goes to landfills.

One thing most folks forget is that glass is heavy. Costs to haul it is based on weight and a given volume of glass is far heavier than the same volume of plastics. Hauling fees for recyclables is higher than the fee for hauling trash. It’s no wonder glass is no longer being recycled and is being landfilled instead.

Rhoda R
Reply to  DCE
January 23, 2019 12:33 pm

Another problem with recycling glass is that different types of glass have different thermal expansion rates and, if you mix the glass up, the resulting product will shatter at the first opportunity.

Deloss McKnight
Reply to  DCE
January 24, 2019 9:14 pm

There is a way to economically recycle glass. In Kansas City, Missouri, there is a beer brewer that has placed large dumpsters in grocery store parking lotscfor people to dump their glass when they go to the store. When the bin is full, it is taken to a recycler who crushes the glass and then passes it to another company that makes beer bottles for the brewer. It’s a system that seems to work pretty well.

william Johnston
Reply to  Sara
January 23, 2019 6:22 am

Regarding newspaper. My veterinarian office takes them for use as bedding. I place the paper in used plastic shopping bags and drop them off as they accumulate.

Reply to  Sara
January 23, 2019 8:14 am

The dislike for glass is mostly on the producer side.
Glass breaks which increases losses.
Glass is heavier which means more transportation costs.
Glass is bulkier which means fewer items in each truck and on each shelf, both of which increase costs.

Reply to  MarkW
January 24, 2019 7:06 am

Yeah, but I will NOT drink beer from a plastic bottle….

Reply to  Sara
January 23, 2019 9:29 am

I still receive a weekly local news circular, dropped on the drive in a plastic wrapper … when we still had a dog, they made wonderful FREE pooper picker uppers. Yes, we cleaned up after our pooch. Nothing worse than dog walkers who despoil my local environment.

January 23, 2019 2:58 am

High temperature incineration of everything from old tyres to treated sewage. Problem solved. Put the ash in landfill and one day it may be profitable to mine it.

Reply to  Arnold50
January 23, 2019 3:08 am

While I agree with you, it won’t happen. Cries of air pollution and global warming will stop any attempt to incinerate any such materials.

R Shearer
Reply to  Arnold50
January 23, 2019 6:42 am

Tires are particularly difficult to handle because of steel belts and other fiber and solid materials, including silica and carbon black.

Reply to  R Shearer
January 23, 2019 7:01 pm

Steel + silica + carbon black? Sounds like something an iron smelting blast furnace would digest easily.

Phillip Bratby
January 23, 2019 2:58 am

It’s just another unintended consequence – something the greenblob excels at.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
January 23, 2019 4:10 am

Sometimes a misquote is better than the original:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong

H.L. Mencken said something slightly different. Never mind. It’s absolutely true.

When I was a pup, wisdom was held up as virtuous and valuable. The concept seems to have been forgotten. Maybe ‘they’ see it as an artifact of the evil patriarchy.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  commieBob
January 23, 2019 4:42 am

Excellent and funny. I intend to slightly modify and use:

For every complex problem the eco-green lobby has an answer that is clear, simple and invariably completely wrong.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
January 23, 2019 4:54 am

Oh yes. It’s like an axiom and its corollaries.

My own favorite is:

Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false. Bertrand Russell

January 23, 2019 5:01 am

Suppose our ancients had worried over recycling? Archaeologists would have nothing to do.

Future robots will easily dispose waste. One recycling job one could do will be stamping items with identifier codes so robots can look them up in a database. But that’s for the future. We should not take proactive precautions now for an uncertain future. It’s a waste of time.

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
January 23, 2019 8:18 am

Ancients threw out very little. They re-used everything until there was absolutely no use left in it.
Heck, if you have grandparents who lived through the depression talk to them about how things got re-used.

D Anderson
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2019 8:35 am

Use it up,
wear it out,
make do or do without.

Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2019 10:52 am

If something had any use in it, my grandfather never threw it out. Even when something reached the point where it couldn’t be fixed anymore, he would disassemble it and salvage any screw, pin, gear, plate, that he thought could be used elsewhere.

His basement was a wonderland for a young lad with a mechanical bent.

Bruce Parr
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2019 2:13 pm

Ancient threw out very much. Check out “Monte Testaccio”.

Reply to  Bruce Parr
January 23, 2019 6:41 pm

Mostly food rubbish and pottery shards. Regardless, it tooks hundreds of generations to build up those mounds.

January 23, 2019 5:12 am

Not to worry … the city of Berkeley just solved the problem yesterday. Being the good Socialists they are, and in another effort to “Save the Planet” … the city is now collecting 25 cents per disposable coffee cup. Yep. 25 cents per cup. And all waste must be compostable.

Take from the people. In the name of the planet. Behold socialism!

No problem … I will NEVER patronize another food/drink business in Berkeley ever again. San Francisco has already been crossed off my list.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Kenji
January 23, 2019 6:14 am

You might as well cross Cali off your list.

Farmer Ch E retired
January 23, 2019 5:13 am

There’s a great future in plastics

January 23, 2019 5:15 am

So rather than gloating that a way of replacing plastics isnt working as well as expected, how about educating the end user?

Again WUWT, by hosting this pro-plastic bollocks you are demeaning yourself and giving ammunition to enviros to dismiss the entire site because of your quite frankly wrong position on plastics.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 5:55 am

The laughable aspect about this (if it wasn’t so sad) is the eco-loons misanthropic response to every thing.

Reply to  Jules
January 23, 2019 6:30 am

Are you calling me an eco loon? Hahahaha!

Yeah, sure.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 8:15 am

No I am calling the people who export our plastic rubbish to Asia whilst those in Asia ‘losing’ 20% of our plastic rubbish and the fools who think thats a good idea.

Its like the people who think removing an oil plaform from the sea bed after it has been on location for 30 to 40 years and developed its own ecosystem is a good idea, etc.

Reply to  Jules
January 23, 2019 3:26 pm

Here in Louisiana, most Gulf fishing charters head out to the oil rigs, because that’s where the most fish congregate.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 8:21 am

If you obsess to this degree over recycling, then yes, the description fits.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 5:59 am

What is the ‘correct’ position on plastics, MattS?

Be advised that if I ran the world, everything would be perfect, so I know the answer. I’m just checking to see if you know the correct position on plastics.

Reply to  H.R.
January 23, 2019 6:11 am

Here’s my solution to the “plastic problem” … make the Asian [pruned] STOP making the ocean their dumpster. Problem solved. Now … about the Asian Brown Cloud …

D’ya see a theme arising … ?

[also pruned. .mod]

Reply to  Kenji
January 23, 2019 9:32 am

Mea culpa, Mr. Mod. Thank you for not BANNING me. I shall be more circumspect and thoughtful in the future.

Reply to  H.R.
January 23, 2019 6:27 am

Well good for you.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 7:42 am

Thank you, MattS.
It’s always nice when my omnipotent wisdom is recognized. That’s at least one. Only 7-odd billion more people need to see the light.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 6:06 am

I think this article just educated me. I’m pretty up-to-date and quite frankly, this is the first article I have read on “compostable plastics” and the problems we have with them. I vaguely knew they existed, but didn’t know the details.

Where exactly is the pro-plastic slant in this article? I think the gloating, as you say, is it is just another example of a group of people coming up with a so called solution and never, ever thinking it through. I grew up in the 60’s when all this began and have watch it evolve to the disaster it is today.

I’m pretty sure none of the readers of WUWT want a polluted and trashy environment. I certainly go out of my way to cut waste in my life but unfortunately I watch people everyday purposing something that is saving the environment but doing exactly the opposite.

Reply to  rbabcock
January 23, 2019 6:28 am

“So rather than gloating that a way of replacing plastics isnt working as well as expected, how about educating the end user”

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 8:22 am

Why do you assume that the problem is the end user isn’t “properly” educated?
Do re-education camps come next?

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 8:35 am

MattS, just take a look at the glass recycling container nearest to you and notice the piles of drinking glasses, coffee cups, incandescent rods etc brought to you by the finest members of the society. Which are typically not related to middle class white heteronormative middleaged conservatives.

The problem is not educating people, it is the freaking nature of human beings being drunk, stoned, stupid, lazy, non-naturalized, not grown up, or possibly even criminal and at least willing to work against the system.

Educating works on some people, but 95% of the problems are caused by the 20% who’s not reachable by education.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  Hugs
January 23, 2019 9:11 am

I suggest that the underlying problem is that so many of these “brilliant’ solutions fail to work with human nature, instead trying to “change” people to meet some ideal.
People are not so much lazy as efficient by nature, if the result is not worth the effort they do not do it. Trying to coerce them never ends well.

Reply to  MattS
January 23, 2019 8:20 am

Ah yes, it’s always someone else’s fault with you eco-loons.

In your “mind”, it’s never that people have made an informed decision have decided that this nonsense just isn’t worth it. It’s always, they haven’t been properly educated.
If they were really smart, they would always agree with you.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2019 1:38 pm

It does sound reminiscent of the various psychologist’s articles we review on WUWT. They accuse CAGW non-believers of being stupid, or willfully ignorant, or evil, or wrong, or uninformed. If only thy changed the message we’d all understand.

Robert MacLellan I believe has the problem in a nut shell; Some humans are passive who need to be told what to think and what to do; some humans are independent but caring and will do right by their neighbour whenever possible; and then there’s some who are fiercely independent who do their own thing their own way and will not kowtow to anyone or anything.

Governments and people who try to impose a single solution upon the entire population can’t understand why they get mixed results.

The Expulsive
January 23, 2019 5:24 am

The whole recycling thing is poorly thought through. Most plastics are not really easily recycled, but they can be burned like any petrol-chemical. We may be using too much plastic in many instances, but they have greatly affected health and welfare through maintaining freshness longer. So why don’t we burn this stuff (using the highly efficient incinerators that are available)? Blame virtue signalling and the environmentalists who thionk we can wrap our food in burlap.

January 23, 2019 5:34 am

“…wrong position on plastics.” MattS

what does that even mean. Believe the point of the story is unintended consequences and the folly of simple solutions. Nobody has offered more wrong-headed solutions to problems real and imagined than environmentalists in and out of government. Education happens when the paper straw unravels before the drink is finished. In the case of countries it happens when the people are freezing in winter. See previous story about coal production in China.

Reply to  troe
January 23, 2019 8:24 am

It means that people aren’t making the correct decisions and need to be re-educated.

Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2019 8:39 am

Oh thanks for this gem, dude.

Reply to  Hugs
January 23, 2019 11:06 am

Sarc missing?

Reply to  Hugs
January 23, 2019 6:44 pm

Was it really necessary?

PS: You’ve been reading my posts for how many years now?

Tom Konerman(@tkonerman)
January 23, 2019 6:10 am

Reply to  Tom Konerman
January 23, 2019 7:53 am

Too damn funny!! And … it reveals WHO these idiot voters are who have utterly destroyed the State of CA … a compliant, head-nodding, MO-Ron who says … “I don’t think that would be a problem” – separating your household waste into 10 different colored recycle bins. There is your Gavin-any twosome-Newsom voter right there.

My local (International Waste Corp.) Waste disposal Co. WHINES and SCREAMS at me for disposing of my Waste in plastic kitchen bags. Hey Waste Management! Fkcu-You! It keeps my kitchen clean, and my home sanitary. So piss off and separate it yourself. That’s what your latest RATE increase was for … right!?

HD Hoese
January 23, 2019 7:05 am

“By deploying its system right now, the project could rob the world of an entire ecosystem that we don’t understand and may never get back.” Another example of green solution fallacy. “Clean up worse than the spill,” which I recall from the oil spill literature, true to some degree with spills when mob psychology takes over. Large plastics have their own barnacle ‘ecosystem.’ Goose-neck collecting devices.

Robert W Turner
January 23, 2019 7:31 am

Too bad there isn’t a viable solution like incinerating trash to produce energy so that the landfill usage is a non issue.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
January 23, 2019 8:39 am

West Palm Beach built a trash incinerator in the 1980’s, hired a bunch of people to sort out the recyclable stuff, and burned the rest. A time later they found that the fish in the Everglades had a huge mercury content that made them inedible and the state issued recommendations to not eat them. The pollution was traced to the trash incineration and the plant was shut down. Another multi-million dollar Green initiative gone bad.

Reply to  Frank
January 23, 2019 3:58 pm

We had one of those in the ’70s-’80s in our city. We called it the “Cash Burning Power Plant.”

It was shut down down to stop the bleeding ($$$$!!) and the taxpayers were out quite a few million dollars over any revenue it brought in. Since the city owned it from the start, it ran at a loss several years longer than any private enterprise would have operated it before cutting the losses. I don’t think it ever operated in the black or at break-even. The final insult to the taxpayers was the cost to tear it down.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Frank
January 23, 2019 4:10 pm

It’d be interesting to know more about this. Was the mercury in the exhaust vapor, or was it in the incinerator waste that got removed and buried? Sounds like it could have been resolved either way.

Mike McHenry
January 23, 2019 7:35 am

Consumer plastics have a high energy content. Burning them to produce electricity in waste to energy plants is the logical solution. There are many successful plants in operation

Reply to  Mike McHenry
January 23, 2019 8:32 am

Our regional waste compact sends its trash to a trash-to-energy plant where the trash is burned at high temperatures to generate electricity (14MW, about enough for 14,000 homes) and eliminate otherwise harmful flue gases. The plant has been operating for about 30 years and is a model of efficiency. It reduces landfill volumes by orders of magnitude, metals are reclaimed and recycled, and we get electrical power from the process.

Reply to  DCE
January 24, 2019 5:08 am

DCE, I wrote just above where our city tried a trash-burning power plant which was an abject failure. You’ve posted about one that works and I think that at 50 years old, was designed, built, and was up and running several years before our city’s fiasco.

I’m thinking that, as with any project that will get government money, there are charlatans who will sell any old slapdash thing as well as some who will give an honest effort. Since this was a popular idea 50-ish years ago, I wonder how many successful plants were built and how many were built and failed?

Strictly a guess, but I think the failures probably far outnumber the successes simply because politicians are involved.

January 23, 2019 8:00 am

When the Republicans replace the Democrats in 2010, one of the administrative changes made was the ending of the exclusive use of a biodegradable “spork” in the visitors center.

January 23, 2019 9:04 am


I have heard of “compostable” containers and such, but have not seen any glaring letters on bottles or microwave dinner packages or most anything else. Only ones I have seen have been those packaging “peanuts” made outta cornstarch or something like it, and those suckers went into the garden and conmpost bin just fine.

I also did not realize that those things couldn’t be easily recycled, just like the styrofoam egg containers and many take-out leftovers or even your Big Mac in the old days. I tried regular newspaper as a mulch and also shredded stuff for the compost bin, and worked fine. Guess the “compostble” stuff is more “organic” or has less toxic ink. A good reference as to brand nmes and such seems in order.

Hate to see eco-friendly efforts by the packaging industry turn out to be a problem. Meanwhile, been hoarding plastic straws and if I live long enuf I’ll have a “gold mine” in my basement.

Gums sends…

Alexander Vissers
January 23, 2019 10:46 am

Typically waste, certainly most plastics, burns quite well so burn it, turn the heat into electricity and domestic heating (not much of a sentence, I know).

January 23, 2019 1:51 pm


I want to thank Sara for the great use of those newspaper bags. I looked at mine just now and sure enuf, recyclable, but only at certain places. But my wife and I agree that using the suckers for cleaning up nasty stuff is super compared to those heavy gloves that still have to be disinfected.

Not so sure about burning plastics, Alex, , especially in my fireplace/stove. Hence, only basic “paper plates” and a weekly newspaper to cut down on trips to the transfer station and so forth. Unlike 90% of America, when at my place in Colorado it’s a 30 mile drive and then btween $10 and $20 for three bags of household refuse. So folks in the “big cities” or living in apartments and such do not appreciate what is involved in getting rid of your garbage. The secret is not accumulating a lot in the first place, huh?
So since last post I found the source of the newspaper bags our weekly rag uses –

The associated recycle link is on my newspaper bag :

There is still a problem for those of us trying to save the planet and this is from the referenced plastic wrap/film recycle website:

Do not include:

Degradable/compostable bags or film packaging
Pre-washed salad mix bags
Frozen food bags
Candy bar wrappers
Chip bags
Six-pack rings

The big surprise is that those of us wishing to save the planet must separate our plastic and then our local store may not like it. So I can now see that 97% of our “recycle” stuff prolly goes to a landfill once reaching the main processing facility and they cannot separate the “good” from the “bad”. So going back to paper bags as genera rule may not be such a bad idea, even tho that is the largest component of most landfills.

Gums sends…

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Gums
January 23, 2019 4:23 pm

Most landfill is covered in soil forming an anaerobic environment. This means that paper and cardboard don’t actually break down in these environments. Paper and cardboard do break down in the open air subject to the sun and rain.

So if you want to reduce landfill volume; reducing plastic and going to paper isn’t the solution.

January 23, 2019 5:45 pm

Back in the day there was a dump, the kids would go out and spotlight the vermin with their .22’s
Sniper training was like second nature to them.

January 23, 2019 7:05 pm

Where do I start about the green farcical dream of recycling. In our area the “Recycle” system has just updated our allowable plastics list to remove ALL plastics that are not Triangle #1. So now 80% of the plastics that we are paying a deposit on to recycle them are not allowed. These plastics are going into the trash and hence the land fill. The reason given was the Chinese processing centers in China could not find a use for these other number plastics so for them to keep taking the #1 plastics we had to stop with the rest.

Three years ago one of the easiest recyclable materials was dropped from the recycle program. Glass jars were stopped because the processing centers in North America were closed and the processing was supposed to move to China for these glass items. Never happened so we throw all non deposit glass jars in the trash.

So lets go to paper products and card board. We used to handle almost 85% of all paper and card board recycling here in North America. Most of that was done by pulp and paper mills operating to use 15% recycled paper in lower end products. The green crowd went on a tear about 10 years ago and attacked the pulp and paper industry by lobbying the government to pass more and more restrictive environmental regulations to close them down. First thing that happened was the pulp and paper plants were closed with the loss of jobs. The new regulations forcing upgrading to new processes made the existing plants unprofitable. These shutdown plants were then sold off to the highest bidder and a lot of this equipment was removed and set up in countries like Indonesia where there are little or no environmental regulations and cheap labor force. One of the results was the market for recycling paper has been reduced to 20% of all the paper been gathered in North America been processed in North America. The rest is put in containers and shipped over seas to some of the relocated plants in Indonesia. Now instead of cleanly recycling these paper products the foreign operators use more toxic chemicals and dump the effluent right into the environment without the strict processing that used to happen in North America. Go Green Crowd another win for the earth team. NOT.

One other side effects to the closing of 12 pulp mills in BC Canada was the reduction of the harvesting of pulp trees. 20 years ago Forestry BC was promoting the replanting of pulp type trees instead of the harvested lumber varieties. The reason given was the pulp trees grow faster and can be harvested quicker so the forests will remain healthier. Pulp trees regrow in about 18 years while a good Douglas fir requires up 40 to 50 years to reach a harvest-able size. With the closing of 12 pulp mills the demand for pulp trees has dropped off just when these 20 year crops are ready to harvest. The last few years in BC the summer wild fires have been extra intense due to the amount of mature soft wood trees that burn very quickly. Most of this tree crop is now dying off due to the over crowding and lack of proper management which just adds more dead wood to an already explosive situation. The amount of smoke, CO2 and carbon released last summer was so extreme that a lot of the crops in the down wind provinces were suffering late growth due to the lack of sun light. Another wonderful environmental disaster from our green crowd.

January 23, 2019 7:15 pm

– Composting requires oxygen for the biological action. Buried in a landfill is a mostly anaerobic environment.
– Related to the above, burying biomass in a landfill is an effective means of carbon sequestration, if you believe such action is beneficial. Beware of exploding heads.

Wex Pyke
January 24, 2019 2:45 am

This may be true, but why is this on WUWT? Are all these pro-plastic posts required by a funder? This has nothing to do with climate, it does have to do with oil, which makes me wonder about many of the other posts on the site. WUWT is a great science based site on the climate, but all this other crap truly reduced the effectiveness of the message.

Reply to  Wex Pyke
January 24, 2019 5:41 am

Wex, many have asked that same thing and the reason this post appears is explained on the “About” page, where you will find this:

About Watts Up With That? News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news by Anthony Watts”

As you can see, it is not a site limited to the topic of climate.

Reply to  Wex Pyke
January 24, 2019 7:52 am

Read the “About” menu item at the top.

January 24, 2019 1:54 pm

Inconvenient truth: Law of Unintended Consequences.

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