|When only tree-based paper will do, World Centric® provides sustainable options.|
Sustainable Paper Alternatives
World Centric® uses FSC certified paper to make some coffee cups and soup bowls. The paper that is FSC certified meets the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council. We use tree-based paper instead of other fiber alternatives for coffee cups and bowls because of technical constraints in processes for manufacturing products from fiber alternatives. Restaurants and cafeterias want hot cups and bowls to have tight-fitting lids, and they want the ability to print their logos on these products. Current fiber alternatives cannot meet those requirements.
World Centric® also uses 100% PCW paper to make napkins and towels. The paper that is 100% PCW comes entirely from recycled post-consumer waste. Products made from agricultural waste almost always leave a lighter environmental footprint than similar products made from tree-based paper. Wherever possible, World Centric® manufactures our foodservice products from wheat straw. The best way to protect the world’s forests is to reduce consumption of ALL tree-based paper, no matter how “environmentally friendly” it is.
That said, when World Centric® does use tree-based paper, we use the best paper with the lightest environmental impact we can find. Several aspects of paper manufacturing affect the amount of environmental damage caused by different types of paper. Paper recycled from another paper (especially post-consumer waste or PCW paper) has a lighter environmental footprint than paper made directly from trees. The tree-based paper that is derived from sustainably managed forests (plantations) has a lighter environmental footprint than paper derived from wood poached in old-growth forests. The unbleached paper has a lighter environmental footprint than bleached paper, especially paper bleached with chlorine.
Benefits of Foodservice Products Made from Tree-based Paper
- Sturdy and strong
- Microwave and freezer safe
- Handle hot liquids up to 200 Fahrenheit
- Conform to US Food & Drug Administration guidelines1
- Fully compostable through home and commercial composting (composts completely at home within 3-6 months and in commercial facilities within 1-3 months)2
Cellulose Fibers and Pulping: Paper is made from cellulose fibers that are extracted from wood, agricultural crops, rags, and other paper. These fibers are separated from their source materials through chemical and mechanical processes know as “pulping,” and the fibrous mixture that emerges from pulping is known as “pulp.” The vast majority of modern paper (90-95%) is made from wood pulp.3
The pulp that is made from different source materials will vary according to several qualities that are important to paper manufacturers because they determine the quality of the paper that is feasible to produce: how strong, how bright, and how smooth the paper can be. Some important qualities in pulp include the length, diameter, and strength of the cellulose fibers, as well as viscosity, dirt content, and color. Paper products that are feasible to produce from one type of pulp can be difficult to produce from another type of pulp. For example, no technology has been established yet to produce functional, FDA-approved paper drinking cups from pulp derived from agricultural waste or from 100% post-consumer waste paper.
FSC Certification: Though using any form of tree-based paper is not ideal, sourcing tree paper from sustainable, reputable sources allows for the reuse and recycling of post-consumer waste paper, and avoids supporting the logging of virgin forests. The Forest Sustainability Council (FSC) certifies whether given tree-based papers derive from forests that are responsibly managed. FSC certification verifies that a forest is responsibly managed to mitigate the common destructive consequences of logging: habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, violence against people who work in the forest, and violence against the wildlife that lives there. When buying paper, World Centric® always tries to buy FSC-certified paper. Currently, we have reached the level of using 50-60% FSC-certified paper in our paper cups and bowls. We continue to strive toward 100% FSC-certified paper in these products.
Post-Consumer Waste (PCW) Recycled: World Centric® also offers napkins, paper towels, and hot-cup sleeves that are made from 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) paper. When searching for products made from recycled paper, consumers need to pay careful attention to four terms on the products’ packaging: recyclable, recycled, pre-consumer recycled, and post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled. These terms are sometimes used in misleading ways.
- Recyclable – This term has very little meaning, since any paper can be recycled, even if it was made with no recycled content. Similarly, the "recycling symbol" on a package has very little meaning.
- Recycled – This term indicates that at least some waste paper was included in the production of the new paper. “Recycled” paper can be made from any mixture of virgin wood fiber, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste.
- Pre-Consumer Recycled: The content of this paper comes from paper scraps and trimmings left over from the manufacturing of other paper. This paper is easiest to recycle, as it does not need to be collected and separated at municipal waste facilities, cleaned, de-inked etc.
- Post-Consumer Waste (PCW) Recycled: The content of this paper comes from other paper that was previously used by an end consumer, and then collected in a recycling program. This is the best paper to buy, as it redirects paper that would otherwise end up in landfills, and no additional trees are cut down to make it.
The actual percentages of recycled content and post-consumer recycled content are important to note when buying paper. For example, “50% recycled 20% PCW” means that 50% of the paper is composed of recycled material and of that 50%, 20% is composed of post consumer waste recycled paper. At World Centric®, we do our best to offer paper products that are made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper.
Bleaching: Finally, World Centric® does our best to offer paper products that are made through chlorine-free bleaching processes. Some of our products are made from paper that was never bleached at all. Others are made from paper bleached with oxygen-based compounds. We avoid chlorine-bleached paper because the process of chlorine bleaching releases harmful chemicals into the environment, like dioxins and furans, which are known to cause cancer in humans and other creatures.
- Product Certification, BioPreferred Labeling; United Stated Department of Agriculture; http://www.biopreferred.gov/Labeling.aspx; retrieved 9/2/12.
- Composting times based on ASTD standards and in-house testing.
- Wood-Free Paper; The Rainforest Information Centre Good Wood Guide; http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/good_wood/wfr_papr.htm; Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- FSC Certified Paper; Forest Stewardship Council; http://www.fscus.org/paper/; Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- Green Living: Green Living Guides; National Resource Defense Council; http://www.nrdc.org/cities/living/chlorine.asp; Retrieved March 22, 2011.
- Nonwoody Plant Fiber Pulps; Dr. Manfred Judt; Inpaper International; http://www.inpaper.com/magzines/inpaper/oct-dec-y1k/analysis-4.htm; Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Overview of the Wood Pulp Industry; Market Pulp Association; http://www.pppc.org/en/2_0/2_1.html; Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Paper Recycling: Frequent Questions; United States Environmental Protection Agency; http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm; Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- Recycled Paper Facts; Better Paper Project of Green America; http://betterpaper.ning.com/page/paper-faqs; Retrieved March 22, 2011