Q: What are your compostable products made from?
We have 3 main product material categories: plant fiber, paper, and PLA (Polylactic Acid). Each of these categories offers a unique way to replace traditional items.
- Plant Fiber: Hundreds of different fibrous plants can be manufactured into alternatives to tree-based paper products. Our main source of plant fiber is wheat straw, though it is occasionally supplemented by sugarcane and bamboo. In many agricultural processes, wheat straw is treated merely as the agricultural waste that remains after grain or juice is extracted. It is commonly thrown away or burned. For World Centric®, straw is a valuable resource that can be fashioned into disposable products like plates, take-out containers, bowls, etc. Using plant fiber protects forests, uses less energy and fewer toxic chemicals than paper alternatives, provides a new revenue for farmers, and is a renewable and sustainable resource.
- Paper: World Centric® provides a line of hot cups and bowls made from paper. While we believe that the best way to protect the world’s forest is to reduce consumption of tree-based products, many of our customers want products which cannot yet be replicated by plant-fiber. Our paper products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council guaranteeing the responsible management of the forests.
- Polylactic Acid (PLA): PLA is a bio-based plastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca roots, or sugarcane. World Centric® products are made from a type of PLA called Ingeo™. To make Ingeo™, sugar from plants is turned into lactic acid through fermentation which is converted into polymer. At this stage, it is shaped into pellets which can be transformed into a wide variety of products. Manufacturing Ingeo™ produces 75% fewer greenhouse gasses and uses 50% less non-renewable energy than traditional polymers like PET & polystyrene.
Q: What is the difference between compostable plastic and biodegradable plastic?
“Biodegradable” means that an object is capable of disintegrating by biological means. Technically, these items could be composed of almost any material since with enough time microorganisms can decompose almost anything. For example, aluminum cans will biodegrade in the ocean in about 200 years and hard plastic bottle caps will biodegrade in about 400 years.
“Compostable” means that a product breaks down to carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass which leaves no toxic residue. According to D6400 composting standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), compostable products must break down at a rate similar to paper or disintegrate into small pieces within 90 days so that the original product is not visually distinguishable in the compost.
Q: How are your products better than traditional alternatives?
Every World Centric® product is certified by the Biodegradable Products institute to meet ASTM D6400 standards for compostability and certified for plant-based content by the USDA BioBased program Our products not only break down into soil, but - through their production and disposal - use less energy and water, and release less harmful pollutant than their conventional counterparts. For example, we can make 2 compostable forks with the same amount of energy it takes to make 1 polystyrene fork and 3 compostable plates with the same amount as 1 polystyrene plate. That’s a 66% saving in energy. Using less energy means producing less greenhouse gas and emitting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Conventional plastics are manufactured from 20 different petroleum-based resins with 20 different levels of recyclability and toxicity. As a fossil fuel, petroleum in a non-renewable resource and its extraction process degrades the environment. Due to complexity in recycling, over 20 million tons of plastic are sent to landfill each year.
Q: What is Ingeo™?
Ingeo™ is the trademarked brand name for PLA made by NatureWorks.
Read more about PLA.
Q: What is the shelf life of your products?
|PLA cold cups, deli containers, etc.
|PLA trash bags & kitchen bags
|Heat-resistant PLA lids for paper cups & paper bowls
|Plant Fiber plates, take-out containers, bowls, cups, & trays
|Paper hot cups & bowls
Q: How long will these products take to break down?
|PLA cold cups, deli containers, straws, etc
|PLA trash bags and kitchen bags
||Up to 1 year
|Wheat straw plates, take-out containers, bowls, cups, and trays
||Up to 6 months
|Paper hot cups and bowls
||Up to 1 year
|Lids for hot cups and bowls
Q: Which products have the least environmental impact?
Our plant fiber products are made from wheat straw, a leftover agricultural byproduct after the wheat grains have been removed. Here are some of the other benefits of using wheat straw:
- Protects forests by replacing the need for paper. While 5 tons of wood are needed to produce 1 ton of pulp for paper, only 1.5 tons of straw are needed to produce the same amount.
- Annually renewable and sustainable
- Require less energy. A wood pulp mill uses 10 times the energy required to create wheat straw pulp.
- New revenue for farmers: directing agricultural waste into paper manufacturing provides an additional income stream for farmers, without impacting food production or increasing energy inputs, and without putting new land into production.
Q: Isn’t using corn for disposable products wasting a valuable food source?
Our Ingeo™ products are made from No. 2 yellow dent field corn, the most abundant and cheapest source of fermentable sugar in the US. We use very little of available US corn crop.
Q: Have your items been tested for compostability by reliable sources?
All our products are certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute to meet ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6868 standards for compostability.
Test products are not always certified immediately.
Q: Where are your products manufactured?
We currently manufacture all of our products in Asia. We are exploring manufacturing options in the United States.
Q: Why are you manufacturing in Asia? Doesn’t that increase the carbon footprint?
We currently manufacture our products in Asia so that we can provide an affordable alternative to plastic. Since transporting products from the Asia to the U.S. is not ideal, we are currently exploring options to manufacture in the U.S. We do our best to minimize the impact on the environment and people. We offset all our carbon from raw materials to delivery (including manufacturing, transportation) and do regular fair labor audits in China to ensure that workers are paid well and have decent working conditions.
Q: Where do your materials come from?
Our raw materials come from a variety of plant-based sources including wheat straw and sugar cane fiber, corn, talc, and paper from sustainably harvested trees.
Q: How are your materials grown?
Whenever available, we seek supplies that are grown without GMOs and with organic farming practices. Unfortunately, there does not exist a reliable supply for some of our materials that are certified non-GMO.