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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Consumer Note/Recycling Deli Containers

Air Date: Week of

Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports that a national grocery chain will begin selling its deli food in containers made from corn.


CURWOOD: Coming up, in Mexico a big flap over a tiny fly. First, this Environmental Consumer Note from Cynthia Graber.

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GRABER: In the first move of its kind, Wild Oats Markets, a national grocery store chain, will be replacing all its traditional plastic deli food containers with plastic made from corn. This corn-based plastic is made by taking corn starch and refining it into a sugar. The sugar is then fermented to become lactic acid. And the lactic acid is further refined to create compounds that can be used in a variety of plastic products, like food containers. Customers will be able to bring the containers back to the store where they'll be collected and sent off to an industrial composting facility.

Industrial composting facilities operate at the very high temperatures and high moisture levels needed to break down the corn-based plastic. The end product will be a rich dirt that could wind up back in Wild Oats stores for sale as compost. Wild Oats plans to introduce its new deli holders in its Pacific Northwest stores, then take the corn-based plastic containers nationwide. The makers of the containers say using corn instead of petroleum greatly reduces their greenhouse gas emissions.

That's this week's Consumer Note. I'm Cynthia Graber.


CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

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