Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Papermate Biodegradable Pencil Test 1

Alas! poor Papermate. I knew him…

Sacrificed for the greater good, poor Papermate Biodegradable Mechanical Pencil lies in a shallow grave just outside my window, there between the mint and the parsley, his resting place marked only by a brother pencil, stuck half into the ground.
papermate biodegradable compost experiment
Laid to rest in early May 2010, after six months I will exhume, examine, document, photograph, report and reinter, for another six months. Thus we shall witness for our very selves the circle of life, the miracle of biodegradability!

So then, exactly how much of the Papermate Biodegradable mechanical pencil is actually biodegradable?
papermate biodegradable box front
Well, as shown on the box, when you decide it’s time to compost your pencil you disassemble and separate it into two groups of components. Basically the grip and mechanism go in the rubbish bin and the main body is the biodegradable part.
papermate biodegradable box rear

Here they are separated and ready for experimentation down in the lab.
papermate biodegradable pencil components
According to my scales, 2 mechanical pencils weigh 25 grams, and the non-biodegradable parts weigh 9 grams, so that means 16 out of 25 grams or around about 2/3rds of the pencil by weight is biodegradable.

papermate biodegradable mechanical pencils on scales

papermate biodegradable non-bio components

So, we shall see whats left after 6 months, in early November.

Here's a link to my review of the Papermate Biodegradable mechanical pencil. As noted in the review, these Papermate Biodegradables were donated by office supplies specialist Euroffice.


memm said...

What a funny and great idea! I wonder how it will look like when you dig it out.

Speedmaster said...

LOL, well-done! ;-)

Rachel said...

That's the most awesome thing I have seen today. SCIENCE!

Stephen said...

Great idea! I suspect eons will pass before it decomposes...

Palimpsest said...

Careful it doesn't come back to life as a zombie-Bic. ;)

Time Waster said...

Krazy ;^) I could see it changing colors but it won't break in half.

Henrik said...

Impressing – before we know it, Papermate might have hired you as advertisement writer. The “Shakespeare - ish” poetry and tragedy in this sacrifice for a higher course is of breathtaking beauty. :-)
Well, let’s see how fast it will degrade – I guess the occasional earthquake doesn’t count?
Good luck

Anonymous said...

Wow, great experiment!

As a side note - did you really just burry the pen in soil? Is the spot you burried it watered on a regular basis?

I've been actively composting for many years now, and I'm fairly skeptical - the "bioplastic" compostable materials that come along are actually pretty hard to compost at home. So far, yard clipping and food stuffs do great, woody things from the yard are a pain (anyone surprised? We build a lot of long-lasting stuff with wood, afterall). I've had decent success with compostable paper plates and wipes, but compostable "plastic" tends to linger for a while.

That said, sounds great. I choose to just use fountain pens and bottled (=recyclable glass, whenever I finally empty one) ink. No need to compost, no need to throw anything away, and actually much cheaper (for the lower-end fountain pens I use, which work just fine).

Kiwi-d said...

Hello bp.
Yes, it's just buried there in the soil. The spot gets plenty of rain autumn through spring, and occasional watering during summer.

Lexx said...

Let's see how ethical these "green companies" really are. *-*

I bet they really don't expect someone to do this test. ;D

Anonymous said...

when are you going to show the results?i am eager to know if this thing really is biodegradable


Kiwi-d said...

The 6-month result will be published this month, the 12 month result in May 2011

hsm shredders said...

Very cool! Look forward to the results.