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Re: E-M:/ Inquiry: Are cornstarch-based packing "peanuts" safe for composting?

Enviro-Mich message from Gary Stock <gstock@net-link.net>


Judging from the sheer number of school lab experiments and marketing
claims online, they are safe and compostable.  Some folks seem to have
dug a bit deeper:


   In a factory [Bill Stoll had] seen cereal being prepared in
   huge pressure cookers. When the clamp holding the top was 
   knocked away by a sledge hammer, the lid flew open and the
   grain exploded as if from a cannon. Stoll knew that a similar
   method is used to make puffed snack food. So he came up with
   the idea of making something like corn curls for packaging. 
   The result: biodegradable packing peanuts. 


   The cornstarch ones will dissolve, so just take those out to 
   the backyard and hose 'em down, or stick them in the compost pile.


   Some of my coworkers and I wondered if that meant you could eat
   them too. So, naturally, when our next order arrived from that 
   company, the first thing we did was to pop the cornstarch peanuts
   in our mouths.  All right, in retrospect, I suppose that was a bit
   stupid. It did not cause any ill effects as far as I can tell, but
   still... who knows where that cornstarch has been?

Whether any of these folks ever boiled down a bag of them, and fed the
paste to their kids daily for six months... that seems unlikely.  But
various fungi, invertebrates, and small mammals might deal with that
phase for you...


> gannonj@windsor.ijc.org wrote:

> I am an organic veggie gardener and try to reduce toxics in our
> family's food intake wherever possible.  Does anyone know if
> water-soluble cornstarch-based packing "peanuts" are safe for
> composting?  What's in those peanuts besides cornstarch?   Anything we
> should be concerned about?  My son and my wife have small businesses
> that involve a lot high mail-order packages, so I have a ready supply
> of the packing "peanuts" and the water-soluble ones seem to be more in
> use these days than the petroleum-based styrofoam ones.
> Thanks!
> John
> John E. Gannon
> Dexter, MI
Gary Stock                                        gstock@unblinking.com
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