Monday, September 20, 2010

New Blog Series: Will It Compost?

Most of you have probably seen the "Will It Blend?" website that made the rounds a while back. The idea was to see if the latest must have personal electronics equipment could be taken out by a blender. The answer was always yes, yes a blender can destroy an: ipod, cellphone, game system... whatever. I thought it was pretty stupid at the time but a variation of the idea might be pretty cool. Recently I purchased a set of Ergon GP1 grips (which I love),  and noticed the substantial "green" engineering effort that went into the packaging and I had my variation.

Will It Compost? 

The idea is to put packaging that is supposedly "green" to the test by subjecting said packaging to a month in my worm composting bin. Then I'll be able to judge weather the companies claims of eco-friendliness are legit or full of compost. If my worms don't eat it, it ain't green. At the same time I will be getting an education on green packaging, as I don't know much about it. 

And just to clarify, I'm not going to put recyclable plastics or any other petroleum based product in the bin, unless the product claims to be biodegradable.

So Ergon, think your packaging is sustainable? Let's find out.
As you can see in the photo below, Ergon uses soy ink and 100% recycled paper. There is also some glue holding the cardboard tube to the rest of the package. 

Step 1. Cut a hole in a box...  Soak the packaging.

Step 2. Shred the packaging to make it easier for the worms to work with.

Step 3. Throw it in the bin!

Tik-Tok Tik-Tok... (fast forward a month or so...)

DING! We have our results.

The worms ate almost all of the packaging. They went through all of the pressed cardboard material leaving only a ring of glue mentioned above and the thin "waxy" outer layer that made up what the main graphic was printed on. One cool thing about worms is that they leave behind only what they don't like. A good example is this Starbucks cup I threw in there a while back.

The worms are about halfway done with it. They eat the paper leaving behind thin layer of wax that made the cup waterproof.

I'm pretty happy with these results. Most companies would put a product like this in clear plastic, which even if it does make it to the recycling bin uses more oil and more energy to make it into yet another piece of plastic.

In this case (for most of this package), I represent the end of the line, converting a useful product, paper, into an even more useful byproduct, fertilizer for my winter greens and eventually food on my plate.

In conclusion I think Ergon did a great job with their grip packaging. The only improvement would be if they  could find a way to print the graphic directly onto the cardboard and use less glue.

Please comment with any "Will It Compost?" requests.

Happy Mondaying


Anonymous said...


Ramona Wheelright said...

i like the idea! by the way, your starbucks cup is lined with polyethylene plastic, not wax. sounds like the worms don't mind though.