Q: Can purchasing and using single-use foodservice items really be part of a greener lifestyle?
A: Yes. Solo products deliver sanitation, convenience, portability, ability to manufacture products cost effectively on a mass scale, and flexibility in packaging. Some Solo products also offer recyclability, use of renewable resource materials or both. The answer to which product or material is better depends on each customer or consumer's unique needs and their own personal definition of sustainability.

Q: How can I find out what is recycled or composted in my community?
A: Curbside and drop-off recycling programs vary by community. To learn about recycling or composting in your area, contact your local recycling authorities or visit www.earth911.com. To locate commercial composters in your area, visit www.findacomposter.com.

Q: What happens when I separate my single-use foodservice products for recycling?
A: Your local waste management facility will sort what it receives by material type and process those items it has the capability to recycle. Everything else will be directed to a landfill, a more specialized reprocessor or waste incinerator. For more information, please visit: www.epa.gov/epawaste

Q: What happens to garbage that goes to a landfill?
A: Modern landfills are designed to be isolated from the environment and are managed to protect the surrounding air, ground and water. Under these conditions, trash will not decompose much. A landfill is not like a compost pile, where the purpose is to bury trash in such a way that it will decompose quickly.

We enthusiastically support recycling or industrial composting of our products wherever municipalities make it possible.

Q: Do single-use products, like those made by Solo, fill up the nation's landfills?
A: Less than 2% of total municipal solid waste is comprised of single-use foodservice packaging waste. For more information, please visit: www.epa.gov/epawaste/

Q: What is the difference between "biodegradable" and "compostable"?
A: A biodegradable material will decompose in a natural environment on its own in a short period of time. However, biodegradable materials will not break down in a traditional landfill if the landfill environment lacks the necessary light, water and natural bacteria for the decay process to begin. A compostable material will also degrade but requires a process that controls moisture, bacteria and temperature to fully break down.

Q: How many different types of plastic are there and how can I tell them apart?
A: The Society of Plastics Industries defines six types of plastic. On plastic foodservice items with a capacity greater than 8 ounces, you will find the code number in the chasing arrows on the bottom of the item. This code does not reflect whether or not a particular municipality will recycle the item but it does tell you what kind of plastic it is made from so that you can check local policies with your waste management company.

Plastic NumberSubstrateWhat is it used in?Description
#1 PET(E) Typically used in clear plastic cold cups, water bottles and food containers Polyethylene Terephthalate
#2 PE-HD
(or HDPE)
Typically used in milk containers, injection-molded food containers and lids High-Density Polyethylene
#3 PVC Not used in foodservice applications Polyvinyl Chloride
#4 PE-LD
(or LDPE)
Typically used in injection-molded food containers and lids, and used as polyethylene coating on paper cups and food containers Low-Density Polyethylene
#5 PP Typically used in cold, hot and microwaveable applications, including black-bottomed containers Polypropylene
#6 PS Typically used in solid or foam cups or containers for both hot and cold applications Polystyrene
#7 Other plastic   All other plastics, bio-resins or a blend of materials

Q: What do all of these terms like “sustainability” and “biodegradable” mean, anyway?
A: Here’s a glossary that provides a few common definitions:

  • Sustainability – Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development).
  • Bagasse – The fibrous residue remaining after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice and the portion of the sugarcane plant that is used for sugarcane foodservice products.
  • Biodegradable – A material or product that will degrade in a short period of time through the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi or algae.
  • Compostable – A material or product that will degrade through controlled biological decomposition in the presence of water, heat and micro-organisms to form an earthy material that is part of the soil and provides food for plants.
  • Eco-forward® – "Eco-forward®" is a term unique to Solo that expresses Solo's ongoing commitment to developing greener alternatives that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable future.
  • Non-Renewable Resource – A resource, like oil, that is in limited supply and cannot replenish itself.
  • Post-Consumer Fiber (PCF) – Fiber made from paper that has been recovered and recycled after consumer use such as paper collected from office or school recycling programs.
  • Polylactic Acid (PLA) – A material that comes from plants, like corn, that can be made into bioplastic products to replace certain oil-based plastics.
  • Recyclable – Any material (or product) that can be recovered and recycled into usable products.
  • Recycled – Any material recovered and reprocessed after use.
  • Renewable Resource – A naturally occurring resource, like bamboo or sugarcane, that can replenish itself.
  • RPET – Recycled PET plastic, the plastic from which water bottles and many other containers are made.