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Compostable Corn Cups

Last fall, I went to Boloco to chow down on a burrito.  For those of you who haven't heard of Boloco, they're a burrito place in Greater Boston that uses things like naturally raised meat, organic tofu, etc.  The food is yummy and I feel good about supporting them!  Their bowls are made of bamboo and their cups are made of corn and supposedly compostable. 

I was intrigued by the corn cups.  Excited to see that it was made of corn, I threw it in our compost bin to see what would happen.  But over the course of the last 9 months, it hasn't broken down at all, so I regularly see the cup there each time I open the bin.  It made me curious about the corn cup.  How eco-friendly is it?  How long will it take to break down?  What else is in the cup? 

From an article in the Greeley Tribune about these corn cups, Colleen Barricklow, owner of Green Logic Earth Friendly Goods said, “People have been having issues trying to get that stuff to break down in their personal compost piles. It needs to go to a commercial compost facility.”

Ah ha!  So that's why my corn cup remains in its whole form!

Apparently, these cups are not always composted (Boloco claims to compost, but I don't know about other places that I've seen use these cups.)  If they aren't composted, they'll end up in a landfill, but these corn cups ultimately will break down unlike plastic cups.

One complaint about the corn cups is that they are made out of genetically modified corn, and another common complaint is that corn is food and have concerns about using food to make plastic could drive up the cost of food.

Sometimes being green requires chosing “the lesser of two evils.”  In spite of the problems with these corn cups, they're certainly a preferable alternative to plastic drinking cups.  The best thing to do, of course, is to bring your own (washable) cup, but sometimes that doesn't always happen.