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Claim check: Chinet Classic White and Hefty Basics plates

Do these disposable dishes decompose?

Consumer Reports magazine: February 2013

The claim. Chinet Classic White plates and Hefty Basics Plates are claimed to be “biodegradable in home composting” yet strong and durable. Chinet says its plates are made from recycled material; Hefty says its plates, which are tan, have no inks or coatings.

The check. We put the plates in a compost pile at our Yonkers, N.Y., facility, using no special effort to help them break down. (To keep tabs on their condition, we placed them inside individual containers of compost and periodically checked for decomposition.) To test the plates’ strength in use, we used them at a picnic, and to hold hot chili. And we used a machine to test how easy it was to bend the plates. We also ran all of those tests on two paper plates that aren’t claimed to be compostable: Dixie Ultra and America’s Choice.

Bottom line.
Poof! The Hefty disintegrated completely in three weeks; the Chinet in five weeks. The other plates disintegrated, too. The process took longer, but when we checked at three months, they were gone. Dixie was strongest, followed by Chinet, Hefty, and the clear loser—America’s Choice, which worked best if our picnickers nestled two or three plates. No plates leaked chili, but they all let some steam seep through from top to bottom. The Dixie stayed driest. Going green could cost slightly more green: Per plate, Hefty Basic and Chinet cost about 13 to 15 cents; Dixie Ultra, 9 to 20 cents, depending on the deal we found; and America’s Choice, about 10 cents.

   

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