San Diego, CA, September 15, 2019—For the first time since the Ocean Conservancy began keeping track, plastic cutlery is showing up on the Top 10 list of trash found during beach cleanups. What the fork, humans?! In an effort to reduce this and take plastic utensils #OffTheTable (and therefore, beaches), TwentyFifty is launching the world’s first 100% compostable utensils. Forks, knives and spoons that break down in your average, backyard, home-scale compost in as little as 10 days.
Named after the year 2050 – the year the population is projected to reach 10 billion and when it’s estimated that the amount of plastic waste in the ocean will exceed the amount of fish – the brand has one mission: to stop, or at least significantly reduce, plastic pollution.
Zack Kong, a bioengineering graduate from the University of California San Diego, developed a patent-pending air flow molding technology that compresses natural grain flours and enables the company to mass produce the utensils. The recipe is simple – wheat flour, soy flour, corn flour and water. The result is a strong yet pliable material perfectly suited to grabbing and holding food.
“The idea for edible utensils is originally from a Japanese designer in 2008,“ said Zack Kong, Founder and CEO of TwentyFifty. “He made conceptual utensils like bowls and chopsticks out of flour. When I took on a project at UCSD about San Diego River trash, I began to research the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. While some efforts had been made to mitigate the trash, what we really need to do is completely replace plastic. I wanted to promote this idea by inventing comprehensive formulas, at a molecular level, that would allow this cutlery to be made around the world using locally sourced grains.”
TwentyFifty differs from other supposedly ‘compostable’ brands whose utensils require industrial-scale plants to compost them. Others use cornstarch as a base for their products which requires the product to be broken down into extremely small pieces and then composted with a very high heat in order to biodegrade. Even then, a sticky, resin-like material is left that is both not good for the soil and also a cause of methane gas. If you were to discard them in a backyard compost it would take two years (or more) for them to fully decompose. A TwentyFifty fork, spoon or knife is composted in 30 days or less and according to Kong, actually provides a significant amount of nutrients for your plants.
“This compostable spoon may seem like a small thing, but it is a first step toward meaningfully addressing the problem of plastic waste in the oceans,” said Albert Liu, a fellow UC San Diego Alum and business advisor for Kong. “This is one of the best things a consumer can directly do to help alleviate the problem of single use plastic.”
TwentyFifty is based in San Diego, CA where they use a custom, automated baking process to create quantities of utensils ready to ship to conscious consumers, natural grocery stores, zero-waste events, and food service establishments that care about reducing plastic waste in our world.