Eat your plate up!
from a Dutch article in De Telegraaf 5 July 2003
While many people may need to
get use to the taste of edible plates and bowls, these
products have proven to be enormously popular in Poland. Nature lovers, in particular, are
very pleased that no plastic picnic items would be left behind in open areas.
The products are developed by the Polish
firm Biotrem. The company had the idea to use bran, the husks of wheat grains
– produced in
huge quantities as waste products in flour factories –
for decompostible plates. In Poland, this product quickly
became a success.
The company was faced with two problems. The production
process did not go well, nor did it fulfil many needs. The company then engaged the help of
EC-Pack. A Dutch branch of Biotrem was set up and EC-Pack scientist Dr. Ulphard
Thoden van Velzen is currently on secondment to Biotrem to work on further
technological applications and the marketing aspects.
"The plates were originally made to be decompostible.
The edible bit was stumbled upon by chance," said Dr. Thoden van Velzen. "Bran
is cheap and would in any case be a waste product of the flour factory. After the company
has produced these plates, a survey conducted among users revealed that
the plates and saucers were also eaten up as well."
Research work conducted by Wageningen-UR is now directed at
two aspects: edibility and decompostibility. "The demands have therefore become
visibly higher. Imagine the element of hygiene required for food products. The
product will have to be modified accordingly."
Dr. Thoden van Velzen expects much from the
decompostibility aspect. "I do not know if the Dutch will show great enthusiasm
for edible plates. We would certainly have to do something about the taste in
that case. But the production of decompostible packaging can rocket. No
more plastic mushroom containers in the rubbish heap, but a decompostible
container for the bin for organic waste. These kind of new packaging material
can have a big impact on waste reduction."
But it will not be easy to set up a production line in
The Netherlands. "This is because of the Dutch government," said Dr. Thoden van
Velzen. "However, we expect that the first products will appear on the market at
the beginning of December. It would be five years down the line before we have
an assortment to offer."
Go to the Dutch page of this article.