Study: Toxic Compounds in ‘Compostable’ Fiber Bowls ‘Never Break Down’

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A study finds molded fiber bowls touted as the “ecological savior” in take-out restaurant chains and salad bars contain potentially hazardous chemicals that do not biodegrade naturally and, thus, make compost more toxic.

“Testing by The New Food Economy reveals an industry secret,” writes Joe Fassler, features editor. “All fiber bowls contain PFAS , a troubling class of chemicals with no known half-life, even when they’re certified compostable.”

As the report observes, the fiber bowls are popular at chains such as Chipotle, Sweetgreen, and Whole Foods, and are “the biggest culinary star of the past five years,” though they bear a dark secret of the environmental responsibility movement that suggests closer investigation of that movement is warranted.

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Experts say all molded fiber bowls contain the potentially hazardous PFAS that are not biodegradable, thus making compost possibly even more toxic than with the materials that are unpopular with the environmentally responsible crowd. The PFAS, they say, “never break down. Not in five years, and not in 500.”

In its study, the New Food Economy tested fiber bowls from 14 locations of 8 different New York City restaurants. Researchers found all the samples tested contained high levels of fluorine, which chemical experts say is indicative of treatment with PFAS compounds, the substances that allow the fiber bowls to hold hot and greasy foods. – READ MORE

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