Field test: It’s a tale of two trays

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Paper obtained samples of the new sugar-cane food tray and the old Styrofoam trays and exposed them to a battery of experiments at our test kitchen, also known as Front Street Pizza in DUMBO, home of the famous taco slice.

The results? Styrofoam may be hated by environmentalists, but the relic beats its eco-friendly counterpart.

First, Front Street’s Larry Leonardi loaded up both trays with normal (for him) servings of baked ziti and chicken Parmesan, allowing The Brooklyn Paper to judge the platters’ ergonomics, structural integrity, and, most important, leakage.

Ergonomics: The Styrofoam tray was the clear winner — Leonardi easily carried it with one hand, while the “green” tray needed two, becoming flimsy after just a few minutes.

“If a kid had books in his hand, he wouldn’t be able to carry it,” he said.

Structural integrity: Some studies claim that microscopic toxins can seep from Styrofoam into hot food. While we didn’t see any toxins on the Styrofoam trays, it was clear that particles of the wet sugar cane tray had flaked off into Editor Gersh Kuntzman’s ziti.

“I hate it when that happens,” Kuntzman said.

Leakage: Here again, Styrofoam displayed its superiority. Besides being cheaper and lasting years longer than the biodegradable tray, Styrofoam naturally insulates against extreme temperatures. After a few minutes, condensation built up on the underside of the sugar cane tray — a mess.

Updated 5:05 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Caroline Diehl from Chevy Chase, MD says:
I find it unbelievable that you are mocking an amazing leap for school systems and other food providers - the biodegradable tray. These trays, while they might not be perfect, are wonderfully innovative solutions to Styrofoam. Styrofoam trays do "last years longer," if you mean that they stay in landfills for about 1,000 years, while biodegradable trays safely compost in 45 days. I don't find it funny that you "didn't see any toxins." This just seems like a weak jibe to get around the fact that Styrofoam actually does contain harmful chemicals - a fact you really can't ignore. Sugar cane flakes, on the other hand, are harmless. Although the sugar cane tray in the picture is wilting more than the Styrofoam, it's also loaded down with a huge mountain of food. It seems like you just added unrealistic amounts of food until you could show that the sugar cane tray is not invincibly sturdy. As a newspaper, it's your job to provide your readers with a truthful, productive evaluation of these two tray options. And I'm not saying that you have to be wildly enthusiastic about the sugar cane trays if that isn't how you feel. But if you're going to criticize them, do it with grounded, researched arguments, not with unfair, foolish jokes.
Thank you.
May 20, 2009, 4:15 pm
Tim Dunn from Lakewood says:
Actually, there is a biodegradable alternative that isn't expensive and doesn't fall apart:


We called the NYC schools food service department this morning, and they are very interested.
June 4, 2009, 7:35 pm

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