Potato Pak offers a wide range of 100% biodegradable plates and bowls made from potato starch. The products are non-toxic and of course, very environmentally friendly. The current available products range from ‘dinner-sized’ plates, to small bowls and even ‘take-away style’ punnets with secure lids.
The green-credentials of these products look to be fantastic. As mentioned above, being 100% biodegradable means that these products will quickly break down in your compost heap or even a worm farm. The packaging that the products arrived in is known as pop starch, a starch based cushioning product which eliminates the need for polystyrene filling in the package. I dropped one of these starch balls in some water and it dissolved away almost instantly. The product did, however, come with minimal plastic wrap. I assume this is out of necessity as the product will need to be kept secure to prevent damage during transport.
According to the information sheet you can even eat the plate if you feel the inclination, although this isn’t recommended. I ran a taste test on one of the plates and while edible, there isn’t really much of a taste beyond a papery/cardboard one!
As you can see in the photos, most of the products come in a beige-cream colour, although coloured varieties are also available. The coloured plates and bowls provide an excellent alternative to their polystyrene counterparts used in events such as birthday parties for kids.
Potato Pak also offer wooden utensils to go with the plates and bowls. These are a good, eco-friendly alternative to the usual plastic forks, spoons and knives. As their website correctly mentions, plastic products require oil during their manufacturing, which is not only environmentally unfriendly, but a limited, non-renewable resource as well. The wooden utensils are also a lot stronger than your typical plastic one.
The plates and bowls are a bit thicker than polystyrene plates and bowls which means that the amount of heat transferred is reduced. This means you can hold onto a plateful of hot food a lot easier than you can do with a polystyrene plate. Currently, the products are not capable of holding hot liquids, such as coffees and soups but Potato Pak does mention that they are conducting research into making a product that can handle hot liquids. If this is achieved then they will be able to branch out into replacing things like the typical polystyrene coffee cup with a green alternative.
The plates and bowls are surprisingly durable. Compared to the typical paper plate option, these items are incredibly strong and sturdy. One thing we did notice though, if there is a small split on the sides of a plate or bowl, you’ll need treat it with a bit more care as they can split quickly from there. We tested how much weight we could load the plate (no damage) with before it broke. Holding the plate on one end, we loaded 600 grams of apples on the opposite end and the plate held up perfectly. Of course in reality you’ll most likely be holding the plate in the middle, but the test shows how strong these items really are.
Potato Pak products are really suited to ‘greening’ the birthday party, barbecue, outdoor social function type markets. Due to their short life-span it’s not very realistic to use around the home for everyday use. By providing an environmentally friendly alternative to temporary cutlery, Potato Pak products are helping to reach zero-waste targets which are landfills are currently trying to achieve.
All in all we were really impressed with the products offered by Potato Pak. I am also looking at the potential benefits of the light-weight products for use in tramping (hiking) trips. With new products on the horizon the product range looks to become even more practical and usable in more of our everyday cutlery and utensil needs.