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 sources of plant fiber are sugarcane, bamboo and wheat straw. In many agricultural processes, sugarcane and wheat straw are treated merely as the agricultural waste that remains after grain or juice is extracted. It is commonly thrown away or burned. For World Centric®, this fiber 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 sustainably certified 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. Our new NoTree™ line of cups and bowls called are made from sugarcane paper and we hope to expand our offerings with this material.
- 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 either tPLA (non-GMO PLA & Talc) or NatureWorks Ingeo™ PLA. To make PLA, sugar from plants is turned into lactic acid through fermentation which is converted into a polymer. At this stage, it is shaped into pellets which can be transformed into a wide variety of products. Manufacturing PLA produces 75% fewer greenhouse gasses and uses 50% less non-renewable energy than traditional polymers like PET & polystyrene. World Centric cutlery and ZeroWare are made from non-GMO PLA & Talc (TPLA). The plant starch used in TPLA is grown in China and utilizes annually renewable resources like corn, cassava and other plants as raw material.
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?
Each 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, paper straws
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, paper straws
||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 leftover agricultural fiber. Here are some of the other benefits of using plant fiber:
- 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 U.S. corn crop.
Q: Have your items been tested for compostability by reliable sources?
Our products are certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute to meet ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6868 standards for compostability.
New products are not always certified immediately.
Q: Where are your products manufactured?
Most of our products are manufactured in Asia. We currently manufacture some of our PLA lids in the U.S. and are exploring more manufacturing options here.
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 Asia to the U.S. is not ideal, we are currently exploring options to manufacture more 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 overseas 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 sugarcane fiber, bamboo, wheat straw, 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.