Compostable products consume fewer resources and emit less pollution than their conventional counterparts.

Benefits of Compostables

Throughout their production and disposal, World Centric®’s compostable products use less energy and water, and release less harmful pollution, than their conventional counterparts. For example, manufacturing bio-based plastic from corn takes only half as much energy as manufacturing conventional plastic from petroleum.1-3 Making cups from bio-based plastic uses only 40% of the water it would take to make them from Styrofoam.1, 2, 4 And the production of wheat straw pulp for plates emits only 27% of CO2 pollution that is emitted in the production of expanded polystyrene resin for Styrofoam plates.1, 2, 5 For a fuller examination of these comparisons, see the link on the left to “Eco-Profiles of Compostable Products.”

Reducing the volume of litter in our world is a key benefit of switching to compostable products. Reducing the volume of plastic in our waste streams is an especially meaningful goal. Thirty-one million tons of plastic arrive at municipal solid waste facilities in the US each year, and only about 8% of that plastic is recyled.6 New plant-based resins (like the PLA used in World Centric® cutlery) hold the promise of redirecting a significant portion of the plastic waste stream away from landfills and into commercial composting facilities.

It is important to note that “compostable plastic” requires commercial composting facilities to fulfill its promise of decomposing quickly and completely. Commercial composting facilities maintain the ideal conditions that are necessary for efficient bio-degradation of compostable plastics. These facilities maintain the proper levels of heat, moisture, and physical rotation needed by compostable plastics to transform them along with other organic waste into humus, an ideal fertilizer for new plants.7

Finally, World Centric® is not only concerned with where our products end up as waste, we are also concerned with where they begin as raw materials. The raw materials we use – plants – are essentially infinitely renewable. They derive from compounds that are assembled by solar energy (and with virtually no petroleum inputs in the case of organic agriculture). Switching from petroleum-based raw materials to plant-based raw materials is one critical step in redirecting the human economy towards a better balance with the global ecosystem.

Page Notes:

  1. Eco-profiles for Current and Near-future NatureWorks Polylactide (PLA) Production, Vink Ervin, NatureWorks, http://delivery.sheridan.com/index.php?ID=GEN_114998_EP-, 1 November 2007.
  2. What’s Your Process Energy Fingerprint? Robin Kent, Plastics Technology, http://www.ptonline.com/articles/whats-your-process-energy-fingerprint, March 2009.
  3. The amounts of energy required to produce 1 pound each of four different plastic resins are 5.37 kWh for PLA, 10.28 KWh for PET, 9.34 kWh for PP, and 11.28 kWh for PS; which can be expressed as the ratio of: 1.0 PLA : 1.9 PET : 1.7 PP : 2.1 PS.
  4. 8.29 gallons of water are consumed in producing 1 pound of PLA plastic resin, and 20.54 gallons of water are consumed in producing 1 pound of Styrofoam; and 8.2 ÷ 20.94 = 0.40.
  5. 0.69 lb of CO2 are emitted while producing 1 lb of wheat straw pulp;
    2.51 lb of CO2 are emitted while producing 1 lb of expanded polystyrene resin; 0.69 ÷ 2.51 = 0.27
  6. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010; United States Environmental Protection Agency; December 2011.
  7. Micro-Plastics in Compost; Eco-Cycle; http://ecocycle.org/microplasticsincompost/faqs; Retrieved March 8, 2012.

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