Paper plates are perfect for a no-fuss party or barbecue. But the tossed plates do add up. What about those plates that claim they'll break down right in your compost? Consumer Reports checked out two, Chinet Classic White Plates and Hefty Basic Plates.
Hefty says its plates are "biodegradable in home composting" and have "no inks or coatings." Chinet says its eco-friendly plates are made from "recycled materials" and are also compostable.
Testers composted the plates at Consumer Reports' headquarters. They put one of each plate in a separate compost bin and went back each week to check on the progress.
Consumer Reports also composted two regular types of paper plates, the Dixie Ultra and America's Choice, for comparison.
Of course, you don't want your plates breaking down while you're eating, so staffers checked out the plates at a company picnic.
Then there was the chili test. Testers scooped 1 cup of chili onto each plate, and the plates were left on a lab counter to see whether chili leaked through. It didn't. But all of the plates did let some steam through. The driest? The regular Dixie Ultras.
As for the composting, the Hefty plates disintegrated after three weeks. The Chinet, five weeks. It took longer, but both of the regular plates broke down, in about three months.
Consumer Reports' take: If going green is important, the Chinet or the Hefty Basics plates can get the job done the fastest, and they don't cost a lot more.