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IS SUGARCANE A RENEWABLE RESOURCE?


What is faster to renew than bamboo? More durable than paper? And more sustainable than any other paper alternative on the market? Bagasse! Bagasse is the name for the sugarcane fiber that remains after the cane is processed into sugar. It is considered a waste product, meaning it requires no additional resources to produce, but makes the world's best disposable plates! Read on to learn more!


BioGreenChoice plates and bowls are made from a plant fiber called bagasse. At first glance, bagasse looks like nothing more than a regular paper plate, except thicker and sturdier, but there is much more to bagasse than meets the eye. In this article we will answer all of your bagasse related questions, from where it comes from to what makes it one of the most sustainable products in its class!



WHAT IS BAGASSE?

Bagasse is the fiber of the sugarcane plant. It is a natural waste product from the production of sugar. Sugarcane farming produces approximately 79% of all of the world’s sugar. As you can imagine, that means there is a LOT of bagasse produced–about 3 tons of bagasse for every 10 tons of sugarcane processed.



WHAT IS BAGASSE USED FOR?

Since bagasse is merely a byproduct of sugar production, there aren’t many uses for it. The most common use for bagasse is to burn it as a fuel source. Unfortunately, burning bagasse releases large amounts of CO2, a major greenhouse gas, back into the atmosphere. Bagasse has also seen limited use as animal feed. Of course, bagasse can also be utilized for its fiber to make pulp and paper products. This process dates all the way back to 1937 using a method invented by Clarence Birdseye. An added benefit of making disposable products out of bagasse is that it means that less is being burned and fewer greenhouse gases are released!



IS SUGARCANE A RENEWABLE RESOURCE?

Yes! In fact, sugarcane is considered a rapidly renewable resource, the same classification as bamboo and cork. Rapidly renewable resources can be regenerated in under 10 years. In fact, sugarcane can regrow completely in just 10 to 18 months, making it a greener alternative to paper and wood.



WILL USING BAGASSE PRODUCTS REDUCE MY CARBON FOOTPRINT?

Almost certainly! Sugarcane is one of the best plants for reducing the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. This is because of something called carbon sequestration. This means that as sugarcane grows it absorbs CO2 from the air and converts it into biomass. Sugarcane absorbs more CO2 per hectare during its growth than almost any other plant. Researchers have even suggested that expanding the production of sugarcane could reduce global CO2 emissions by as much as 5.2%.



WHAT MAKES BAGASSE PAPER MORE ECO-FRIENDLY THAN REGULAR PAPER?

Good question! For starters, regular paper is made from trees, which take at least 20 years to grow back, whereas sugarcane can be renewed in 10 to 18 months. Paper products also contribute to 10% of deforestation globally, which has dramatic negative consequences on biodiversity, ecosystems, and the environment.


Furthermore, the production of bagasse paper products is much more efficient, requiring only 1.5 tons of sugarcane pulp to produce 1 ton of bagasse paper versus the 5 tons of wood needed to produce 1 ton of regular paper.



WHAT ABOUT WHEAT STRAW PRODUCTS?

Disposable wheat straw products are another good alternative to traditional paper products, but bagasse is still more eco-friendly. Sugarcane is one of the most efficient photo synthesizers in the plant kingdom, converting up to 1% of solar energy into biomass, whereas wheat only converts between 0.1% and 0.4%. All of this means that sugarcane absorbs up to 10 times more greenhouse gasses from the air when it is growing than wheat does.



BAGASSE PRODUCTS MUST BE LESS DURABLE THAN REGULAR PAPER, RIGHT?

No! Bagasse products are actually remarkably durable! Don’t believe us? See what our customers have to say on Amazon! Bagasse fibers are naturally robust, making them highly resistant to grease and moisture. They are microwave safe (unlike most plastic plates) and can easily withstand temperatures up to 220°F, which is hotter than boiling water! plates are thicker and sturdier than other bagasse manufacturers and beat them handily in side by side comparisons.



HOW ARE BIOGREENCHOICE PLATES MADE?

After sugarcane is harvested, the cane juice is extracted to be refined into sugar. Whats left behind is raw sugarcane fiber, or bagasse. This fiber is then purified, mixed in large vats, and extracted into molds to become plates, platters, and bowls. The plates are then dried and packaged for you to purchase and enjoy! You can can get an in depth look at the process of bagasse tableware manufacturing here.



IS BAGASSE SAFE TO EAT OFF OF?

Yes! Our products are 100% food safe, and may even be far safer than disposable plate options. Plastic and foam plates, for instance can actually release toxic chemicals into food. When heated, they leech small amounts of styrene, which is a probable carcinogen in humans.



bagasse products have also been Kosher certified by KGC. This means they are compliant with Jewish food laws and suitable for serving kosher foods! Additionally, they are 100% gluten free, containing no trace wheat gluten that might contaminate foods.



IS BAGASSE COMPOSTABLE?

Yes! One of the main advantages of bagasse fiber over other disposable products is that they will not pollute the environment for decades or even centuries to come. Bagasse products instead biodegrade quickly and release no harmful chemicals.



CAN I COMPOST BAGASSE AT HOME?

Yes! Bagasse products make a great carbon rich addition to your backyard compost pile. You can read more about composting in our previous blog: Getting Started with Composting in 2020 or follow our Instagram for weekly compost tips!



All of our bagasse products have been certified by TUV Austria for home compostability, meaning they will safely and quickly break down in your home compost pile. You should always check for the home compost certification mark (shown above) before buying bagasse products. You can learn more about TUV Austria and their certification process here.



WHY NOT USE OTHER DISPOSABLE PLATES?


For an in depth look at the problems with other disposable tableware solutions check out our previous blog: Which Plate is Right for Your 4th of July Cookout? In summary, most other disposable plates have drastic negative environmental impacts and could be harmful to you, your family, or the planet we all inhabit.

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