Preliminary Research from the Use of Compostable Dinnerware at the 2005 Jeux Du Canada Summer Games in Regina, Saskatchewan

By McMartin, Dena | Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Preliminary Research from the Use of Compostable Dinnerware at the 2005 Jeux Du Canada Summer Games in Regina, Saskatchewan


McMartin, Dena, Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science


Abstract: Compostable dinnerware was used and tested during the 2005 Jeux du Canada Games at the University of Regina. Prior to, during, and following the Games, several research activities were undertaken to examine the structural integrity, user friendliness, consumer opinions, and general compostability of the dinnerware under various conditions. The results indicate that consumers are highly motivated to purchase and use environmentally friendly options and that structural integrity is sufficient for most applications. Overall, the dinnerware performed as advertised by the manufacturer and can be composted within a 2-week timeframe.

Key words: compostable, single-use dinnerware, structural integrity, strength of materials.

Resume : De la vaisselle compostable a ete utilisee et mise a l'epreuve durant les Jeux du Canada 2005 a l'Universite de Regina. Plusieurs activites de recherche ont eu lieu avant, durant et apres les Jeux, afin d'examiner l'integrite structurale, la convivialite, les opinions des consommateurs et la compostabilite globale de la vaisselle sous diverses conditions. Les resultats indiquent que les consommateurs sont tres interesses a acheter et a utiliser des options saines pour l'environnement et que l'integrite structurale est suffisante pour la majorite des utilisations. Regle generale, la vaisselle a atteint les performances citees par le fabricant et elle peut etre compostee en moins de deux semaines.

Mots-cles : compostable, vaisselle a usage unique, integrite structurale, resistance des materiaux.

[Traduit par la Redaction]

Introduction

The 2005 Jeux du Canada Summer Games were held in Regina, Sask. in August 2005. As a part of the "Greening the Games" campaign compostable dinnerware was used at the Athletes' Village. Research was conducted during the Games by surveying nearly 600 athletes, composting used plates, and assessing structural integrity. This project offers several preliminary research benefits based on a large volume event. With nearly 4500 athletes in attendance, more than 100 000 meals were served using in excess of 500 000 plates, bowls, and cups. Compostable dinnerware from Seeker Green in China was chosen as consistent quality products are available in large volume.

The structural requirements for the paper plate industry include such performance aspects as resistance to heat and moisture, mass loading, and release of contaminants to food during contact (BRC 2004; CFIA 2003). Since it is possible for agriculturally based fibers to contain metals and other contaminants from the soils in which they are grown (Li et al. 2005; Adams et al. 2004), agriculturally based products that come into contact with food substances must be further analyzed for contaminants. From the regulatory point of view, products that come into contact with food must adhere to the safety and structural strength standards set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Canada and the BRC/IoP Global Standard for Food Packaging and Other Packaging Materials across the European Economic Community (EEC), United States and China (BRC 2004).

Test standards for structural strength set out by ASTM and TAPPI can be adopted in the laboratory for specific applications of pulp-based molded fiber products (Clean Washington Center 1997). In this project, test procedures were developed that provided the best available and repeatable methods for measurement of test parameters given the equipment available. The University of Regina continues to conduct research into these products as well as development of Saskatchewan-based manufacturing using local residual agricultural fibers.

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Methods and materials

Athlete survey

The 2005 Jeux du Canada Summer Games were completed over a two-week period, during which athletes rotated on a one-week basis. A survey template was developed to adequately, yet rapidly, evoke responses from equal numbers of male and female athletes during mealtimes over both weeks of competition. …

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