Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Questions

Q: What are your compostable products made from?
World Centric compostable products are made from a variety fo compostable materials which currently include: compostable PLA plastic made from cornstarch, plant starch and sustainable paper alternatives. These products come from annually renewable resources and are sustainably manufactured, non-toxic while in use and decompose back into the soil. 

Q: What is the difference between compostable plastic and biodegradable plastic?

Compostable plastic is plastic which is "capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the plastic is not visually distinguishable and breaks down to carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass, at a rate consistent with known compostable materials (e.g. cellulose). and leaves no toxic residue." American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM).

In order for a plastic to be called compostable, three (3) criteria must be met:

  1. Biodegrade - break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass at the same rate as cellulose (paper).
  2. Disintegrate - the material is indistinguishable in the compost, that it is not visible and needs to be screened out.
  3. No Eco-toxicity - the biodegradation does not produce any toxic material and the compost can support plant growth.

Biodegradable plastic is plastic which will degrade from naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi etc. over a period of time. Note, that there is no requirement for leaving "no toxic residue", as well as no requirement for the time it needs to take to biodegrade.

Q: What's wrong with traditional plastic and styrofoam?
Plastic and styrofoam are non-biodegradable and non-compostable materials derived from petroleum, that stay in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years and leach toxic substances into the groundwater. Read more about problems with traditional plastic and styrofoam.

Q: What’s wrong with traditional paper products?
Most traditional paper disposable products are made from virgin wood fiber, which depletes our natural forests and the eco-services that forests provide. Read more about problems with traditional paper products.

Q: What’s the difference between TPLA, clear Ingeo and Plant Fiber products?
Ingeo products are made from corn starch. TPLA products are made from 70% cornstarch & 30% talc. Plant Fiber products are sourced from multiple fibers, which can include sugar cane, wheatstraw or bamboo. Ingeo™ products work better with cold materials, TPLA products work with materials under 200 F, while plant fiber products work with both hot and cold materials

Q: What is the shelf life of your products?
PLA and bagasse products have an estimated shelf life of two years. Products should be stored in a cool dry area to achieve maximum life expectancy. PLA products should not be exposed to heat levels over 110 degrees F.

Q: How long will these products take to break down?
Biocompostable products do not decompose on their own. They must enter the composting process. This entails putting them into the soil with food, yard waste and other organic materials. Once the biocompostable product enters the compost system, it will decompose over a few months.

Decomposition time is dependent on two factors. One factor is the way in which biodegradable products are disposed of. Biodegradables are best disposed of in a commercial composting system, as commerical compost piles contain large amounts of moisture, are kept at a high heat and are aerated frequently. In commercial composting systems bioplastics are expected to degrade within 180 days. Within a home composting system, where high levels of heat are not able to be reached and where aeration depends on how often the owner is willing to turn their pile, bioplastics can take more than 180 days to degrade. Another factor is product thickness. The thicker a product is the longer it will take to degrade. Many commercial facilities grind or cut products such as biodegradable cutlery in smaller pieces to decrease degradation time.

Q: Which products are the most sustainable?
Bagasse products, which are made from sugar cane fiber leftover from juice extraction, are very sustainable products. It uses a waste product that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated.

Q: Isn’t using corn for disposable products wasting a valuable food source?
No, because it is 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 you ever thought about manufacturing new Bagasse or PLA products?
We have many new product ideas. These will not be available immediately, but we are always working on new designs. All ideas are welcomed.

Q: Have your items been tested for compostablility by reliable sources?
All PLA (bioplastic) products we carry are certified by ASTM and BPI for compostability.

 

Questions about Composting

Q: What is composting?
Composting is breaking down organic material by bacteria, yeasts and fungi into healthy, fertile soil.

To learn more about composting, please click here.

Q: Where is the nearest composting facility?
A list of composting facilities in California is located here.

If you are not located in the state of California but reside within the continental United States or Alaska, please click here to locate a facility near you.

Q: How do I properly dispose of my compostable products?
Please dispose of products in compost bins whenever possible. Unfortunately, not every city has a nearby composting facility. You can contact your city’s waste management and/or recycling programs for further information on your composting options. Your city or county website will often have information on composting and free composting classes available.

Information on how to create your own compost can be found here.

Biodegradable/compostable products are not recyclable and contaminate the recycling line. In the trash, they will most likely end up in a landfill.

Q: What’s the difference between composting and recycling?
Composting involves the decomposition of organic material by bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Recycling is re-processing used materials to create new items. Recycling works by collecting used "waste," sorting the materials, breaking it down into basic components and then recreating new goods. Biodegradable products are compostable, while most plastics are recyclable. Paper can be either composted or recycled.

To learn more about composting, please visit our Composting page.

Q: Is composting a feasible alternative to landfills?
Composting biodegradable plastic, along with other biodegradable waste, generates much-needed carbon-rich soil (humus) instead of filling up our valuable land with waste. Compost amended soil can have beneficial effects by increasing water & nutrient retention in soil, reducing chemical inputs, (toxins, pesticides, etc.) and suppressing plant diseases. Many communities have large-scale centralized collection of yard waste and compostable material. (Please check with your community about options in your area or ask your waste disposal company.) Through composting, the problem of waste disposal could become the solution for low-input, sustainable agriculture.

Q: Shouldn’t you encourage people to “reuse,” rather than replace one disposable product for another?
Yes, ideally we should all be reusing dining ware. Unfortunately, Americans use an immense amount of takeout containers and other disposable tableware everyday for convenience. Most of these materials are thrown into the landfill, stay there for thousands of years and leach into our groundwater. Biodegradable products offer a compromise: today's consumers get the convenience of disposables, while future generations benefit from cleaner groundwater, less landfill overflow and environmental degradation.

Q: Do cities collect these products if they have food waste on them?
Some counties (like Alameda and San Francisco) pick up food waste. In other cases, there are some companies that pick up green waste.

 

Questions about Ingeo™ and TPLA Products

Q: What are Ingeo™ compostable products?
PLA is polylactic acid and is made from corn starch. It is a bioplastic that is both compostable & biodegradable.*

*See definitions of compostable vs. biodegradable here.

Q: How are Ingeo™ and TPLA different from recyclable plastics?

The first and most important difference between traditional plastics and PLA (polylactic acid) is the material they are made from. Plastics are made from petroleum based chemicals & additives that are known pollutants and toxins while PLA is derived from corn-based resins (a non toxic and annually renewable resource). Secondly is the way in which pla and traditional plastics break down. Traditional plastics can be recycled or thrown in a landfill to slowly breakdown over hundreds of years. PLA products can't be recycled but will biodegrade 60% of their mass within 180 days in a composting system. It is unknown how long biocompostable products such as PLA take to break down if put in a traditional landfill system.

Q: Is there a symbol for “bioplastics”?
Currently symbols #1-#6 are reserved for plastic products – bio-plastics and all other products, which can be considered as plastic, fall under the #7 symbol as "Other."

World Centric uses #0 to indicate that a product is biodegradable and compostable.

Q: Are Ingeo and TPLA more or less expensive than regular plastic?
That depends on the type and brand of the product, as well as the size of the order.

Q: How are Ingeo™ and TPLA products (cutlery, bags, cups etc.) manufactured?
They are made by processes which are similar to how plastic products are made – injection molding, extrusion or thermal formed.

Q: How long will the TPLA cutlery take to decompose or compost?
The PLA (corn derived) cutlery and any other products made from PLA (cups, biobags etc.) take longer to biodegrade and perhaps are best composted in a commercial facility. However, they can be composted at home and may take 180 days or more to biodegrade.

Q: What if I throw my Ingeo™ and TPLA products into the trash?
Our products require adequate amounts of heat, moisture and air to biodegrade. Unfortunately, conventional landfills do not fulfill these necessary conditions. If PLA products are thrown into the trash, it will be collected and dumped into the landfill. Communities across the country are rapidly depleting available landfill space, so any addition to landfill volume simply adds to this problem. More importantly, landfills are sealed which means little biodegradation occurs below the surface, so what is thrown away remains preserved for decades to come.

Q: What if I throw my TPLA cutlery into the recycling bin?
If the cutlery is thrown into the recycling bin, it will not be reformed into another plastic product, but will degrade in the actual recycling process. (Keep in mind that after the sorting process, a low percentage of plastic is actually recycled.)

Q: How do Ingeo and TPLA products handle hot and cold foods?
The PLA (corn derived) cutlery is heat resistant to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the 120 degrees F cutlery with hotter foods will make it lose its structure and shape. PLA is not microwave, but it is freezer safe.

PLA is not microwavable, but freezer safe. The PLA products are especially great for cold products.

Q: Are Ingeo and TPLA products edible?
While our PLA products are generally non-toxic, they are not recommended for human consumption. If accidentally ingested, most small pieces of PLA would pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract and are eliminated in the stool. If pain or discomfort occurs, please consult a doctor.

Q: What if I am allergic to corn?
While PLA is corn-based, the extreme heat used in processing this corn into the feedstock destroys immunologically reactive profilin. Thus, PLA should not cause an allergic reaction.

Q: Is the corn used to make Ingeo and TPLA products GMO-free?
The corn cutleries, which are made in China, and the BioBags, which are made in Norway, are GMO-free. The products manufactured within the United States may be produced using GMO corn.

Q: Does this mean that World Centric supports GMO?
We do NOT support GMO products, however, through the purchase of PLA resin we are contributing to GMO corn production. While we NOT do want to purchase anything with a GMO-base, our primary goal is to lessen our reliance on petroleum products and prevent the environmental degradation caused by the manufacture of these products. Further, we intend to work with our competitors to demand non-gmo corn for the marketplace. We believe that as the market for compostable plastics grow, we will soon have the purchasing power to eliminate GMOs in our products!

 

Questions about Plant Fiber

Q: What is Plant Fiber
Bagasse is sugar cane fiber pulp, left after the juice has been extracted from the sugar cane stalk. Bagasse is normally seen as a waste product and incinerated, thus creating air pollution. Making tableware out of residual sugar cane fiber actually decreases air pollution and adds value to the material.

Q: How is Plant Fiber tableware manufactured?
Sugar cane fiber bagasse tableware is made by pressing the pulp with intense pressure and high temperatures to a mold form. It is sterilized and sanitized and conforms to U.S. Food & Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) guidelines.

Q: What are the benefits of using Plant Fiber?
Bagasse is 100% compostable and it biodegrades in 30-60 days. Through the use of this product, you are contributing to a sustainable planet. Bagasse is a tree-free renewable resource and provides a superior alternative to petroleum derived products. It will biodegrade and will not stay in the environment for hundreds of years.

Q: How long does Plant Fiber take to biodegrade?
The rate of decomposition depends on the composting conditions – the temperature, turnover rate, moisture etc. Just like other compostable material, products will biodegrade much faster, if they are broken into smaller pieces.

Bagasse (sugarcane fiber) tableware will biodegrade at the same rate as garden waste in a home composting system, which depending on the home composting system can be approximately between 60 and 90 days. They will degrade faster in a commercial composting facility.

Q: How well do the Plant Fiber products handle heat?
The Bagasse (sugarcane fiber) tableware will handle hot food and beverages up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the tableware does “sweat” with hot foods and some condensation will form at the bottom of the tableware with hot foods.

Bagasse is both microwave and freezer safe.

Q: Is Plant Fiber Fair Trade?
The tableware is made in China. The manufacturer claims that they pay its workers fair living wages according to living standards in China and provides vacation, housing, normal work hours etc. for its workers. We have currently no way of verifying this information. Please view the labor audit reports here. At present, World Centric is considering opening our own Bagasse factory in India using Fair Trade standards.

 

Questions about Paper

Q: What is PCW Paper?
Post consumer waste (PCW) paper is made from paper that has been used by the end consumer, collected from various recycling programs.

Q: What's the difference between regular paper and PCW paper?
"Regular" paper is probably made of virgin trees, while PCW paper is made from paper that has been used by the end consumer. According to www.papercalculator.org, 100% PCW paper uses 42% less energy, releases 37% less carbon dioxide and pollutes 46% less water than 100% Virgin paper.

Q: Where are there biodegradable lids for the paper hot cups?
We do not have biodegradable lids for paper hot cups because PLA lids that can withstand high temperatures have not been produced yet.

 

Questions about Ordering and Accounts

Q: How do I log in to my online account or create a new online account?
When proceeding to checkout, first time customers ordering from World Centric would click “Continue” under “New Customers” and fill in the “New Customer Registration”. If you have ordered from us before, please enter your email address and password. Please note: if you have forgotten your password please do not create a “New Customer Registration” as this will create a duplicate online account.

You can also click “View Cart” in the top right hand corner of the screen to be taken to the shopping cart screen and click “My Account” under the World Centric logo in the middle of the page.

 

Q: How do I place an order?
Customers who plan to order less than $2500 worth of products per month would place their orders on the website with a credit card or through PayPal.  Customers placing larger orders are invited to open an account with terms with World Centric. If you are interested in opening an account, please call 707-241-9190 and press option #2 to speak to someone in our sales department.

To place an online order please visit the "Biocompostables" section of our website.  Simply add items to your cart and click “Proceed to Checkout” when done shopping.  Next, enter Payment Information and your Shipping and Billing Address (which must exactly match the billing address on your credit card statement or the credit card will be declined).  Then choose a shipping method.  Add any needed special instructions in the “Special Instructions” box, confirm you have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions, and review your entire order paying close attention to item descriptions and the quantity.  Finally, click “Change Order” at the bottom to make changes, or if you are satisfied with your order click “Submit Order”. Please note we require a minimum order of $25.00. 

 

Q: Your system is not able to process my credit card. Why?
There are numerous possibilities as to why a credit card transaction cannot be processed. One of the most common reasons, however, is that the billing address of the credit card does not match the billing address entered on the order. Please note there are two separate areas for your bill to and ship to address. On the "Review and Submit Your Order" screen on the top right of the page is "Your Billing Address". Please confirm this address matches the address exactly as seen on your statement received in the mail. If it does not match, click “Change” below the address, make the necessary changes on the new screen, and click “Use This Address” on that screen. Click “Submit Order” to resubmit your order.

Important! Each time you attempt to process your order a new pending charge is entered on your credit card account for the total of the sales order. If after you confirm the address is correct and the credit card still is not being processed please call us at 707-241-9190 for assistance.

 

Q: Where can I check on my orders, billing or update my profile?
Click “View Cart” in the top right hand corner of the “Biocompostables” page to be taken to the shopping cart screen and click “My Account” under the World Centric logo in the middle of the page. From here, you can check billing, orders, and update your profile.

Q: Where can I find your products on your website?
From World Centric’s front page, you can click on “Foodservice Products” at the top right of the screen. Likewise, you can click “Biocompostables” on the top left hand side of screen. Please scroll down to see all product categories with subcategories under each heading in the middle of the page. Clicking on a heading will take you to a new screen with subsections of items to choose from on the right hand of the screen. Click on the subsection and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find different options and sizes.

Alternatively, if you click on the subcategory located in the middle of the Biocompostables page it will take you directly to the product page with different sizes and options (please be sure to scroll down to see the complete line).

From the main Biocompostables screen, you can also access product information by choosing from a list of categories on the left hand side of the screen. Clicking on a category will take you to a new screen with subsections of items to choose from on the right hand of the screen. Click on the subsection and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find different options and sizes.

 

Q: What if a product is listed as “Out of Stock”?
If an item is listed as "Out of Stock" the item will need to be removed from your cart to proceed with your order. Please call 707-241-9190 to speak to someone in customer service for estimated date of availability and/or to see if we can suggest a comparable item instead.

Q: Are World Centric’s products available in stores?
Our retail line is available in various retail stores and markets across the nation including Whole Foods and Cost Plus World Market. Please click here to see our full retail line.

 

Questions about Pricing and Discounts

Q: Do you have a price list?
The pricing on our webstore is the most up to date pricing. However, a full catalog can be requested through our Contact Us page.

Q: Are there different wholesale and retail prices?
For more information about the pricing schedule for distributors and retailers, please contact our Sales Department at 707-241-9190 (option #2) or through our Contact Us page.

Q: How do these prices compare to non-compostable alternatives like plastic and Styrofoam?
In general, our prices are comparable to prices for plastics and paper, but will be higher than the cost of Styrofoam.

Q: Can I get a discount?
World Centric offers discounts to established distributors and to direct clients ordering over $5000/month. Please call 707-241-9190 and press option #2 to speak to someone in our sales department.

We also offer 20% discounts to K-12 schools non-profits working on social, environmental, human rights and peace issues.

For more information, please visit our Discounts page.

 

Q: Can all products be discounted?
We are not able to discount certain items such as 5-Compartment school trays, 7th Generation paper products, Clearance/Sale items, and Samples. For more information please click here or call Customer Service at 707-241-9190.

 

Questions about Shipping

Q: When will my order arrive?
Orders may ship from multiple locations. Your order will ship in 1-2 business days (Monday - Friday excluding holidays) from the time you place your order.

To calculate average transit times to your area please click here to find your location on the map and add 1-2 business days to the transit time (and include any weekends or holidays). This is the maximum amount of time it would take to receive your order for Ground shipment. If your package is time sensitive, please include this information in the Special Instructions box of your order and we will do everything we can to accommodate your request.

You should receive an email confirmation with a tracking number from UPS.com the day your order leaves our warehouse. The tracking number can be used to track your order via www.ups.com.

For more information on shipping, handling, and processing, please visit our Shipping page. Please contact customer service at 707-241-9190, option 0 for any questions about placing, processing or tracking your order, or on our Contact Us page.

Q: What if I need my order by a certain date?
If you need your order by a certain date, please include this information in the Special Instructions box during the ordering process and we will do everything we can to accommodate your request.

Q: Can I pick up my order from your warehouse?
World Centric offers a pick-up option for larger (bulk) orders. Please contact customer service at 707-241-9190, option 0 for information about picking up.

Q: I want to ship to another country.
Due to high freight and custom costs, World Centric is limited in it's ability to ship internationally at this time. Please contact our Customer Service Department for more information at 707-241-9190 (option 0) or through our Contact Us page.

Q: Where's my order? I haven’t received my order yet.
If over a business week has passed since you received your order confirmation and you still have not received your order, please call Customer Service at 707-241-9190, option 0. You can also track your package on UPS.com with your tracking number that is sent via email on the day your order ships.

Q: When does my order qualify for Free Shipping?
As part of World Centric’s continuing efforts to provide superior products and services, we are happy to announce free ground shipping on orders over $75 in the continental United States. If your order meets or exceeds $75 (before tax), you qualify for our new free ground shipping option. Choose the free ground shipping option at checkout.
*This offer is only valid for orders shipped to addresses in the 48 contiguous United States; not valid in Alaska, Hawai’i, Puerto Rico and international orders.

 

Questions about Returns/Cancellations

Q: Do you accept returns?
Please call the administrative office at 707-241-9190 before returning goods so that you can receive an authorization number for your return. Returns sent to our warehouse without an authorization number will not be eligible for refund.

For more information, please visit our Returns/Cancellations page.

Q: What if I want to cancel my order?
Please submit all cancellation requests via our "Contact Us" page or by phone at 707-241-9190, as soon as possible and include all the information you received in your order confirmation. Every effort will be made to accommodate the cancellation of your order, providing your order has not been shipped. Orders ship about 2 business days after they are placed.

For more information, please visit our Returns/Cancellations page.

 

Questions about Custom Designs and Printing

Q: Do you do custom printing?
Yes, we can custom print your design or logo on Bagasse and PLA products.

For more information, please visit our Custom Printing page.

Q: What if I don’t want the logo on the cup?
If you do not want any writing on our Clear Cold Cups, we will have to create a custom order for your needs. This would require a minimum production of 100,000 units and 1.5-2 months lead time.

NOTE: We encourage our purchasers to leave the "#0" on the cup. It helps the end-user identify the cup as compostable and encourages them to disposable of the item in a compost system.

 

 

Still have questions?

Our Customer Service Representatives can be reached at 707-241-9190 or through our "Contact Us" page.