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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 10 December 2008
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Potato plates are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Do you think they are also a sustainably made product? Why is this?

Transcript

Richard Williams (Potatopak, now re-branded as earthpac)

Potato plates are the alternative to polystyrene, plastics and paper. They are much more user friendly, 100% biodegradable, 100% compostable, and they’re used for any outdoor event, and anything that’s dropped on the ground and is not picked up will totally biodegrade and disappear.

All the ingredients are food grade. Can you eat the potato plate? The answer is yes, but we don’t recommend it. It’s not designed as a food, but it won’t hurt you. And it doesn’t taste all that great. One could flavour them, and we go into that realm one day, but not yet.

The actual ingredients of potato plates are potato, starch and cellulose. The cellulose is a fibre, which is sustainably grown timber pulped to a length of 200–300 microns, which is 0.2 or 0.3 of a millimetre, and that holds the plate together. The main ingredient is starch, potato starch.

Potato starch is a waste. Some people say to me, “Oh, you must keep the price of potatoes up by using potatoes”. But we only use the waste after they’ve cut the potatoes into the chips. We take that water and filter it, clean it, dry it, and you’ve got the waste starch, which would normally go down the drain. We mix it with cellulose and make the plates.

Acknowledgements:
Peter Hall
Snack Brands Australia