August 21, 2020
The Wardrobe Crisis
RETHINKING BRUNCH LEFTOVERS - HOW ONE COMPANY TRANSFORMED AN AGRO WASTE PRODUCT. BY CLAIRE KALIMAN.
You know what they say, one person’s trash is another’s... fork?
Avocados are in everything these days: avocado toast, avocado fries, even avocado ice cream. But what happens to all those pits?
Illustration by Juliet. www.thejulietreport.com
Enter Biofase. The company creates utensils out of this agricultural waste stream as an alternative to petroleum-derived plastics.
Yes, the most sustainable utensil is one you can reuse, but tell that to the huge numbers of people who choose the single-use option. According to National Geographic, more than 100 million plastic utensils are used every day in the US alone.
As the amount of plastic in our ocean increases every year, we need improvements to existing technologies. (You can hear more about the ocean plastics problem on The Wardrobe Crisis podcast episode 47. )
Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados, and discards 300,000 tons of avocado stones a year. Rather than let them go to waste, Biofase, founded by Scott Munguia, has come up with a way to combine the pits with synthetic organic compounds to make a bioplastic material.
See here for the history of bioplastics, and here for an excellent overview of their environmental pros and cons - let’s just say it’s complicated. According to this blog from Columbia’s Earth Institute, “While bioplastics are generally considered to be more eco-friendly than traditional plastics, a 2010 study from the University of Pittsburgh found that wasn’t necessarily true when the materials’ life cycles were taken into consideration.” Of course, it depends which bioplastic material you’re talking about, how it was made, and where it ends up. Told you it was complicated. Meanwhile, “the global bioplastic market is projected to grow from $17 billion this year to almost $44 billion in 2022.”
Biofase say that their products have a lower carbon footprint than paper or wood, and won’t dissolve or break while you’re using them. (If you’ve ever used a paper straw, you know it melts quicker than your drink.) While you can’t home compost these utensils, they biodegrade in landfill within 240 days and don’t need to be taken to an industrial composting facility.
As more cities around the world ban plastic straws, we need innovative solutions that work well and have a lower impact on the environment. We’re intrigued by this solution, and how it evolves. What do you think?