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Foodservice products made from plants, not plastic
Americans continue to become more conscious about the impact we have on the environment. So have you ever wondered what happens to all the plastic plates, cups and utensils at fast food restaurants when diners are finished with them?
While some plastic may be recyclable, most of it still winds up in a landfill. According to a 2009 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, out of the 12.5 tons of waste from plastic containers and packaging only about 14 percent actually gets recycled.
On April 22 — Earth Day — a new Toledo company will begin using an innovative concept to reduce this waste. EcoLogic Foodservice Solutions will launch its new line of sustainable single-serve foodservice products. Their unique brand of cups, plates, cutlery and to-go containers are “made from plants, not plastic.”
“They look and feel like plastic, but they are made with a 100-percent corn-based polymer,” says Lawrence Ohlman III, EcoLogic’s director of operations. “They take 90 percent less energy to produce and are fully compostable within 180 days. Technically, you could put them in compost and turn them back into soil.”
The new products are comparable in price and quality to those made from plastic, EcoLogic hopes to sell its wares to companies looking to go green. Ohlman says his company will offer its products to restaurants, school cafeterias and hospitals.
“There is a huge demand,” he says. “We’re starting with Toledo, northwest Ohio and southwest Michigan, and trying to build our first market. But the sky is the limit.”
EcoLogic has partnered with polymer manufacturer DowCargill’s Natureworks LLC to make its products. They will be marketed under the brand name Ingeo.
“What we do … is take the protein out of the corn and through several steps all the starch materials are processed and formed like plastic,” Ohlman says.
The end result is similar to products one might find in a grocery store or at a fast food restaurant. The difference is that the new plant-based cups, plates or utensils all have natural coloring and are made without bleaches or dyes.
Ohlman, who has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Toledo, said he is committed to the Toledo area. His other locally-based company, EcoLogic Products LLC, produces sustainable tableware. With EcoLogic Foodservice Solutions, he characterizes himself as the “green guy” for a number of local investors.
“Toledo is in the middle of a lot of places,” Ohlman says. “We need more jobs, and from here we can get to many larger cities in just hours or a day. That’s really beneficial. If your draw a circle around it, you can see that Toledo is a great location.”Look for an online store of EcoLogic’s products coming at the end of April. For more info on EcoLogic products visit www.ecologicfoodservice.com