When you are hosting a large party, especially if these are outdoors, disposable plates are more practical to use. They are often used during picnics and barbecues. One advantage with disposable plates is that you need not worry if they are dropped, as they are often made of a materials that will not shatter.
But are disposable plates an alternative that is environmentally friendly. They are, if they are made from recyclable materials or of a material that decomposes easily. If they are not, then they will find their way ultimately into a landfill where they will take up valuable space. Compostable plates are a compromise that allows the plates to be disposed as you will naturally, or even added to your garden to serve as compost for your garden. They make for an ideal solution for people who are looking for environmentally friendly solutions when then need to cater to large parties.
Most compostable plates are made form bagasse that is a material that is a by-product from sugar cane production. Sugar cane is processed to extract juice that is then converted to sugar and other by-products. What remains is the fiber that can be processed further to make many compostable items, plates being one of them. These plates, once used can form compost that can be used for any horticultural activity.
Even if you do not use them in the garden, and just place them in a compost bin, they will gradually breakdown and turn into compost. Even if they find their way into a landfill as part of the garbage from your home, they will ultimately decompose and turn into harmless products. It is best if these plates are broken up before they are disposed off, as this will hasten the process of their being turned into compost or decomposing.
Paper plates are made from recycled paper, and paper is a material that will bio-degrade. But often these plates are treated with plastic coatings and this can halt their decomposition process or slow it down. Plates made of leaves for certain plants can also be turned into compostable plates, and these see wide use in Asian countries from the banana plant. In fact, in India, it is customary in large gatherings, like weddings, to serve a meal on these large plantain leaves, as they are very easily disposed off and they further save on water, as no washing up is required. These natural products do not require any manufacturing making them even more environmentally friendly.