Indiana Government buys bio-plastic

New containers will biodegrade in a regular landfill.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—The two cafeterias that service the 8, 000-employee Indiana Government Center’s two cafeterias recently switched to bio-plastic containers made from compostable resins. The cafés now use biodegradable and compostable cold drink cups and take-out containers. Bill Schaefer, regional director at this Merriam, Kan.-based Treat America account, says once the price of oil went up, it made more sense to switch to the biodegradable containers.

“We’ve been looking at this product for about six months,” Schaefer said. “Our salad bar containers’ price shot up with the price of oil, so it actually made this corn-based product similarly priced, which made the switch an easy decision. Also, this was the only biodegradable container that I’m aware of that states that it will biodegrade in a regular landfill. A lot of others will only biodegrade if they are specially handled in a commercial landfill in a commercially run compost facility, which the state of Indiana doesn’t have right now.”

The new to-go containers can be used only for cold items such as the salad bar and deli sandwiches. Schaefer says they also switched to biodegradable corn-based cold cups at the location as well. Plans to expand the variety biodegradable products used are in the works.

“We have several other locations that are completely green,” Schaefer said. “However, with the tough economic times, we’re looking at which products are most cost-effective as we plan to roll out these two products to the rest of our friends at Treat America. The to-go containers are just a half cent more than our previous foam ones, so we decided to go with it because we could switch with no additional cost passed along to the consumer.”

The switch also stimulates Indiana’s local economy since the company that makes the to-go containers is opening up a new facility, in Seymour, Ind., just 65 miles south of Indianapolis.