Compostable plates have gained lots of popularity in the last few years, thanks to a host of benefits they guarantee. A significant amount of the garbage that ends up in oceans and landfills is made of plastic food packaging. Using biodegradable products may help reduce the trash that ends up in landfills as well as the world’s oceans.
Plates made from biodegradable products are relatively environmentally friendly because they do not leave behind toxic residues or chemicals. What’s more, these products degrade over time, ultimately releasing earth-friendly nutrients back into the soil. And because they feature non-toxic materials, you can enjoy your hot drinks or meals without worrying about chemicals finding their way into your food.
Despite their vast potential benefits and popularity, most people don’t know whether compostable plates are microwavable. As I’ve mentioned earlier, compostable plates are made from organic materials that will degrade quickly and are suitable for composting. They are an ideal choice for those searching for a green alternative when catering for parties, picnics, or barbecues.
Are Compostable Plates Microwavable?
Not all compostable plates are microwavable.
This is simply because some of these plates feature materials that are not capable of withstanding a lot of heat, thus not being microwave-compatible. Thankfully, compostable containers that can be heated in the microwave are usually marked.
Having used a variety of compostable plates, I have extensively explored the topic of compostable microwavable plates, so I’ll share with you what I know.
What Materials Are Compostable Plates Made Of?
Compostable plates or containers can be made using a number of raw materials, including bamboo, sugarcane (bagasse), paper, natural palm tree leaves, and corn, which can be decomposed.
After use, compostable containers can be placed into a compost bin. They will gradually break down and ultimately become compost which can then be used in the garden. In other words, compostable containers can be disintegrated and return new nutrients to the soil to enhance the growth of new plants.
However, for this to happen, they need to be in specific conditions for proper decomposition to occur. In this regard, some compostable plates or containers can easily be broken down at home using a simple compost bin whereas others must be decomposed in industrial composting plants.
The primary reason why some compostable containers should be decomposed in industrial facilities is that they need higher temperatures to decompose.
Generally, compostable food serving ware made from plants usually doesn’t decompose in a regular compost bin, so it should be decomposed in an industrial plant, using any of the following techniques:
- In-vessel composting: with this technique, specially designed vessels are used to compost the organic containers. It is a highly effective method that can decompose a broad range of waste in just a few weeks.
- Window composting: This involves creating numerous rows with compostable waste, allowing the waste to be rotated periodically while adequate heat is generated to help achieve the ideal temperature needed to decompose the waste.
- ASP composting: In this particular method, the organic waste is mixed with layers of bulking agents such as woodchips or shredded paper to allow air to traverse from the bottom of the pile to the top.
Industrial facilities have the right conditions set up from the start, so decomposing compostable containers can take less than 6 months.
What Compostable Plates Are Microwavable?
A microwave is able to heat food because the water molecules available in the food absorb the microwave radiation thereby heating the entire food. Microwaves force the water molecules in the food to vibrate, producing the heat that cooks the food. In other words, a microwave won’t heat something without water.
And this is why foods that are high in water content, including fresh vegetables, are cooked more quickly than other foods. So, the reason why the plates become hot after being used in the microwave is because of the heat transfer from the food itself to the plate.
According to the FDA, compostable containers can be used in microwave cooking because microwaves pass these materials. However, even though compostable containers cannot be heated directly by a microwave, they can become very hot due to the heat resulting from the food cooking inside.
And some compostable plates feature raw materials that cannot handle high food temperatures and may likely melt, burn, or get deformed from the heat. Another thing to take into account is that some compostable containers may have chemical properties that you may not want to transfer to your food.
So, what are the properties of a microwave-safe disposable plate?
- A plate that won’t heat up directly because there is no water in it.
- A plate that won’t melt when the food heats it indirectly.
- A plate that will not release chemicals into your food when it is being heated.
Tips for Testing Compostable Plates for Microwave Safety
If you are looking at your compostable plates and are not quite sure about their safety inside your microwave, don’t fret! Remember that we said earlier that most compostable plates are designed to be microwave safe. However, it is still important to verify if indeed they are. Also, it is imperative to note that even disposable plates that are microwave-safe only work best when microwaved for a short time.
Below is a simple and straightforward procedure to follow when testing a plate for microwave safety:
- Examine the plate: Turn the plate over, ensuring the bottom part is facing you, and read whatever is written there. Most plates and containers are labeled as either ‘microwave” safe or ‘not for use in microwaves”. If this is not indicated on the plate, proceed to the next step.
- Conduct the test: Set your microwave oven to its highest power setting. After that, fill a cup with a little amount of water. Put both the cup of water as well as the dish inside the microwave. And if you are using fairly larger plates, place the cup containing the water inside the dish. But make sure you don’t put any water into the plate in question.
- Microwave both the plate as well as the cup for a minute. And if the plate in question becomes hot or warm after heating, just know that it isn’t microwave-safe. On the other hand, if the plate remains cool and the cup of water is hot, the plate is microwavable.
Examples of Compostable Plates That Are Microwave-Friendly
There is a wide range of compostable plates out there on the market that are made from different organic materials such as corn, bagasse, bamboo, palm leaves, and more. Having used a variety of compostable plates, we can confidently say that the following products are among the best compostable plates that are safe for your microwave:
Green Earth, 100% Natural Bagasse Compostable Plate
Green Earth compostable plates are not only microwavable, but are highly attractive thanks to their bold design. What’s more, these plates are extremely versatile and you can use them for holding all your foods, from lunch to dinner. You can use them to hold meat, salads, cheese, and rice, among other food varieties.
Made from sugarcane fibers known as bagasse, these earth-friendly plates are sustainable and biodegradable. The sugarcane material not only makes these plates easily compostable, but also sturdier and stronger compared to other items out there.
Green Earth plates contain neither plastic nor wax lining hence are microwavable and freezable too. And because they are oil and cut resistant, these compostable plates guarantee reliable support and strength for most foods.
Hefty Paper Large Compostable Round Microwavable Plates
These are stylish compostable and microwavable plates that are not only convenient and durable, but can take the heat as well. Featuring a mixture of natural fibers, Hefty paper plates are both soak and heat resistant and therefore, can stand up to even some of your messiest snacks and meals. They are available on Amazon in a variety of sizes for all occasions.
These plates are free from added artificial chemicals such as chlorine, inks, and dyes. They are ideal for the microwave atmosphere. And because they are easy to clean and readily disposable, Hefty paper plates are perfect for picnics, camping trips, and barbecue parties.
Verde Planet 4-inch Square Leaf Eco-friendly Plates
If you are a passionate environmentalist, Verde plates (also available on Amazon) offer you the most affordable way to maintain your green lifestyle, especially as you serve up delicious meals to your beloved family as well as friends. These are biodegradable, sturdy, disposable, and elegant compostable plates.
The natural textures make these plates arguably the most unique choice of compostable plates. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit your every need. And because they are made from fallen palm leaves, Verde Planet compostable plates are not only 100% biodegradable, but safe for microwave use.
What’s more, these plates are leakproof and incredibly reliable and can be used for a variety of foods. Ideal for both cold and hot items, including liquids. Simply put, if you are looking for a microwave-safe compostable plate that will make a style statement in your kitchen, look no further than Verde Planet plates!
The Bottom Line
Compostable plates or containers offer an easy, straightforward and affordable way to conserve your immediate environment. However, when it comes to microwave application, it is imperative to note that not all compostable plates are microwavable.
While many of them are made of materials designed to withstand high temperatures, some are not specifically designed to be microwaved. And this is why you should carry out your research to ensure the product you are using is microwavable.
We have provided you with practical and effective tips on how to know whether a particular disposable plate is microwavable or not, now it’s up to you to figure it out.