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School districts across the country are saying farewell to the traditional foam trays that have been used to serve meals from cafeterias for decades. Administrators are realizing that traditional Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) trays are not an environmentally sound choice. In May 2015, six of America’s largest school districts - including in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago - announced plans to phase out EPS trays and replace them with compostable trays.
What’s the Problem With EPS Trays?
The major issue with EPS trays is that they don’t break down because they are made from a petroleum-based plastic. This means that they can sit in landfills for hundreds of years with more of them continuing to pile up. More than 225 million EPS trays end up in landfills each year and they can cause potentially dangerous chemicals to seep into the water and air.
What Are Compostable Trays?
Compostable trays are typically made from recycled newsprint or organic materials such as bamboo and bagasse, which is just one way that their use helps the environment. Because they are made from an organic material, they can be taken to a commercial composting facility. From there, the trays can break down within a matter of weeks. Some cities such as New York and Los Angeles have biodigestors which can even convert the compostable materials into natural gas.
How Do Compostable Trays Help Schools?
Using compostable trays helps school practice what they preach when it comes to creating an environmentally-friendly atmosphere. Compostable trays aren’t significantly more expensive than traditional EPS trays so there is very little additional costs involved with making the switch. In addition, some school administrators say that the compostable trays are easier for students to handle.
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
Schools aren’t the only organizations that can benefit from making the switch to compostable plates and trays. Any business that purchases bulk amounts of dining materials can reap rewards from using compostable items. It provides a great public relations boost and gives you the ability to talk about how you are helping the environment. They are also very sturdy and dependable and provide a high-quality dining experience for customers of catering companies and other businesses.