Steel lunch boxes: an environmental nightmare.


8 comments posted
biodegeneration diff

Can you please provide statistics from your research about the number of years taken by the two materials in the topic (plastic and steel) to biodegrade.

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 01/08/2015 - 22:51
Unfortunately I cannot. While

Unfortunately I cannot. While it is thought that plastics in general take many thousands of years to completely decompose, we have no reliable statistics on it -- no plastic was in existence 1000 years ago. We do have examples of iron and steel artifacts though, and here the situation is, as always, complex. Some thin sheets of steel will corrode to dust in few tens of years (think the underside of a car), while some iron artifacts lasted for many hundreds of years covered by soil or water, before they were recovered by archaeologists.

Posted by andrzejc on Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:54

Consider le following: plastics are generally poorly recycled when the container comes to end-of-life. Then it goes to landfill, or is burnt in a municipal incinerator, or simply lost in the environment. A product made of steel, is much more interesting, because steel is recovered with high rates at end-of-life, is remelted to make new products. Steel is a permanent material.

Posted by Anonymous on Thu, 11/06/2014 - 07:28
Yes, and that is considered

Yes, and that is considered in the 'disposal' part of the calculations of the environmental impact.

Posted by andrzejc on Wed, 11/12/2014 - 13:24
Yes, and that is considered

Yes, and that is considered in the 'disposal' part of the calculations of the environmental impact.

Posted by andrzejc on Wed, 11/12/2014 - 13:24

I am not discounting the environmental impact difference, but I can tell you I would say the steel one is going to last a lot longer than the plastic. I use ones similar to ones on the left and after awhile i have problems with the lids. and where do you think they go after that? I would say modify the one on the right to include a metal lid with small rubber gasket and clasp and it's something you can have for life, thus bridging the gap, or exceeding it (when accounting for multiple versions of the other).

Posted by Anonymous on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 17:56
Eh, lifespan

You are perfectly right - the lifespan of the two compared items should be taken into account. I have not done it explicitly in this article, as I did not find reliable statistics of the lifespans of the plastic and steel boxes. I found anecdotal evidence though. On one hand people claim their 25 years old tupperware is still going strong, on the other people complaining their metal boxes rusted after few dishwasher cycle, and needed to be replaced. Others claiming the plastic pieces of cr*p had to be thrown away after a month, while the grandpa's metal box is still in use. From my own experience, I have noticed that my plastic boxes tend to live some 5 years (and break), while metal ones get banged, scratched, bended and chipped, and are replaced after similar period, but more for aesthetic reasons. Still, if the plastic box lasts 5 years, then the metal box would need to be used for about 65 years to make up the difference in environmental cost.

Please note that I do not make any health-related comparison between these two - I know some people do not like plastic because of real or imagined danger of chemicals existing and possibly leaking from the plastic.

Posted by andrzejc on Sat, 01/15/2011 - 13:16
Quality of materials

Their are sturdy types of plastic that make up food conatiners. by going with those it should be able to last for a long time. I did not think about how much energy is needed to make steel. NOw, i will reconsider about steels products when choosing my reusable products. Steel is good for one strong reason when concerning about the human health, steel is more resistant to bacterias and easier to clean. just a thought and thank you to the author for this great article

Posted by Anonymous on Wed, 07/03/2013 - 11:09