Can you really eat these plates? Bare-ly

In the name of cutting-edge eco-inqury. Yong Kim / Staff Photographer

So you’ve invited the neighborhood to your annual Labor Day barbecue this weekend. And you’re thinking about the 10,000 plastic plates and cups your guests will use during the char-broiled feast you plan to serve up.

And you’re thinking: “One minute through the lips, a lifetime in a landfill.”

And you’re thinking: There has to be a more environmentally kind way to feed your backyard revelers.

The people at the Solo Cup Company are thinking they have the answer. I’m not sure it’s the best one, but it’s a start.

Solo has a new line of disposable plates and cups, called Bare, that are compostable. There’s a caveat about that, which I’ll get to in a sec. But first let me say that the fun thing about Bare products is that they’re made, in part, from sugar cane. More specifically, they contain bagasse, the fibrous remains of sugar cane once all its juice has been extracted.

Which made me wonder: Could I eat Bare by Solo?

“The products meet the FDA standards for food contact, but they are not meant or recommended for human consumption,” explained Solo spokesman Tim Lindberg, who scored big points in my book by not laughing at the question.

Just to be sure, I took a bite of a Bare plate. Let’s just say: Ain’t enough barbecue sauce in the world would’ve made it tasty.

Anyway, the Bare products are guaranteed to be compostable – if they’re disposed of in a commercial-composting facility, where Lindberg says the plates and cups will degrade within 180 days.

It’s not that the stuff won’t degrade in some home compost piles, but the break-down isn’t guaranteed, said Lindberg, since personal compost piles obviously differ from household to household depending on myriad factors that Solo has no way to predict.

Fair enough.

So where’s the closest commercial compost facilities? I went to www.findacompster.com to find out.

Turns out the nearest place to the Daily News  is over ten miles away, in Royersford.

Which, if you’re an environmentally concerned party host, leaves you with a ridiculous question: Is it stupid to drive over 10 miles to throw away a cup?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

Like I said, Bare by Solo isn’t the perfect answer to the problem of disposing of party waste, but it’s an admirable start.

Just don’t eat the stuff.

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