Friday, July 10, 2009

Corn cup compost

You might notice a plastic container every now and then that says COMPOStABLE on the bottom instead of HDPE. These containers are generally made from corn. Which should not be a surprise I guess.

I have quite a few corn plastic cups to compost, as well as the occasional plastic container from TJs.

When somethings says COMPOSTABLE, you would think you can just toss it into your compost pile the way you might add eggshells, corn cobs, or coffee grounds.

When I googled "composting corn cups" on the Internet to find out any special tricks, I kept finding sites where people were bitching about how you are supposed to compost them *commercially*. "Commercially" refers to someting like a city composting program that they only have in left-coast cities. These facilities heat their compost to HIGH temps, much higher than your average home compost pile. I saw numbers like 150 degrees (F) being thrown around.

Now, I have been working very very hard and have gotten one of my piles to heat up to 130. Woo! I think this will be plenty warm to break down corn plastic but we will find out. I can imagine that your run of the mill "cool" compost pile could take years to break it down. But 130 is pretty smokin'.

I'm experiementing a little with composting these cups. First off, I'm assuming that corn cups are "brown", i.e. are a high source of carbon. Corn cobs are a high source so that's what I have to go on. I have absolutely no idea what part of corn the cups are made from. Probably the kernels.

Anyways, I loosely filled the cups with coffee grounds and buried them as deep in my pile as possible. I'm adding them to the other pile. the one that is not yet 130 degrees. I added other stuff as well and made sure the pile was nice and large so it can start generating some serious heat. I can't wait to turn these clear plastic cups turn into rich brown compost.

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