If you grab your lunch to go during the workweek, you’ve probably been served it in what’s known as a “molded-fiber” bowl from any number of eateries, including Chipotle, Dig, and Sweetgreen (which advertises theirs as compostable).
However, The New Food Economy, a not-for-profit newsroom, did an investigation, and found that these molded-fiber bowls all contain PFAs – which are nicknamed “forever chemicals.”
PFAs consist of over 4,000 fluorinated compounds that don’t biodegrade naturally. So when you toss that so-called biodegradable bowl after lunch, you’re not doing the world a favor by using something that will break down. Instead, you’re throwing away a takeout bowl that will never break down in the environment.
The New Food Economy made this discovery – which has not been reported until now – by testing bowls from 14 locations of eight different New York City eateries, including multiple Chipotles, Digs (formerly Dig Inns), and Sweetgreens. All the bowls tested high for fluorine, which is part of the “forever chemical” PFA compound.
These chemicals make the soil more toxic and pollute the water, not to mention stay in our bodies longer than usual, says Joe Fassler, the author of the report.
“They are likely making compost more toxic, adding to the chemical load of the very soil and water they were supposed to help improve,” Fassler wrote. “And rather than degrade quickly, they contain potentially hazardous ingredients that never break down. Not in five years, and not in 500.”
Meanwhile, in related environmental news, McDonald’s introduced new paper straws in England and Ireland last year. Eco, right? Wrong. This week, we learned that they’re not actually recyclable – although their old plastic straws were. As it turns out, the new paper straws are too thick to be processed by the recycling machines. In an internal memo printed in The Sun, McD’s said that until further notice, the paper straws should simply be thrown away.