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FAQs

FAQs

Please click on the FAQs heading titles below to expand.

General FAQs - CLICK HERE

Q: What is the difference between compostable and biodegradable?
In July 2000 the US Composting Council and the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) announced a labeling (certification) program based on the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard D 6400-99 for materials suitable for composting applications. 

The certification program and ASTM Standard D 6400-99 states the following definitions for degradable plastics:

Compostable Plastic: a plastic that undergoes degradation by biological processes during composting to yield CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass at a rate consistent with other compostable materials and leaves no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue.  (ASTM 6400-99)

Biodegradable Plastic: a degradable plastic in which the degradation results from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae.  (ASTM D 6400-99)

Note: To be classed as a compostable plastic, meeting the time constraint is of paramount importance and must be demonstrated.  The materials also must leave no visible, distinguishable or toxic residues.

Beware of products labeled “Biodegradable”
Just because a product or ingredient is biodegradable does not mean it is healthy or safe for people or the environment.  For example, the toxic pesticide DDT biodegrades to the compounds DDD and DDE, both of which are more toxic and more dangerous than the original DDT itself. 

Other Important Definitions:

Degradation: an irreversible process leading to a significant change to the structure of a material, typically characterized by a loss of properties (eg. integrity, molecular weight, structure or mechanical strength) and/or fragmentation.  Degradation is effected by environmental conditions and proceeds over a period of time comprising one or more steps.

Disintegration: the falling apart into very small fragments of packaging or packaging material caused by degradation mechanisms.

Note: the prior two definitions are broader in scope than the definitions of biodegradable and compostable.  In addition the definition of compostable plastic relates the degradation of the plastic to the time frame of the biological activities.  The subtle differences inherent in the various definitions are extremely important when making claims regarding products.

Composting: a managed process that controls the biological decomposition and transformation of biodegradable material into a humus-like substance called compost; the aerobic mesophilic and thermophilic degradation of organic matter to make compost; the transformation of biologically decomposable material through a controlled process of bio-oxidation that proceeds through mesophilic and thermophilic phases and results in the production of carbon dioxide, water, minerals, and stabilized organic matter (compost or humus). Composting uses a natural process to stabilize mixed decomposable organic material recovered from municipal solid waste, yard trimmings, biosolids (digested sewage sludge), certain industrial residues, and commercial residues.

Compostable: capable of undergoing biological de-composition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the material is not visually distinguishable and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass, at a rate consistent with known compostable materials.

Q: Do all companies follow ASTM standards and definitions?
No, ASTM standards and definitions are not law so not all companies follow them.  Beware of misleading labelling and advertising.
 
Q: What makes Earth Distributor’s products environmentally friendly?

  1. Earth’s products are made from abundant plant based renewable and sustainable resources that typically grow every year.  Plastic and foam products are made from oil which is not a renewable resource.  
  2. The basic raw materials for all plants are carbon dioxide and water.  Growing plants take these building blocks from the atmosphere and the soil, combining them to make carbohydrates (sucrose and starch) through a sunlight driven process called photosynthesis.  Carbon offset programs typically include planting trees and plants.
  3. Petroleum production typically creates vast amounts of carbon dioxide.  Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is believed to be the cause of global warming and the excess is believed to be a result of human activities.
  4. Earth’s products biodegrade into non-toxic byproducts where petroleum based products may never degrade.  It is unclear what toxins will be released if or when they degrade.
  5. Typically, Earth’s products use less energy and water to produce compared to petroleum based products.  For example, our cold cups, portion cups, deli containers and the lining of our hot cups are made from Ingeo™.  The production of Ingeo™ emits 77 percent less CO2 and consumes 56 percent less energy than the equivalent weight of PET.
  6. We use recycled and reclaimed raw materials whenever possible.  All our sugarcane products are made from fiber remaining after sugarcane production.  We do not use virgin fiber and our sugarcane products are “Tree Free”.
  7. Earth’s products offer alternatives for disposal with little if any effect on the environment.  All our food service items are 100% compostable, which provides a way to divert used products from the landfill.
  8. Composting diverts our products away from the landfill and the compost can be used on agriculture land to grow food.  The use of compost produces higher yields and virtually eliminates the need for fertilizer.

Q: Are your products safe for food contact?
Yes, all our products are sanitized for food contact and packaged in a clean and safe environment.

Q: Will Earth’s products degrade sitting on the counter or while in use?
No, products will not degrade while on the counter or in use however they should be stored in a cool, dry place. 

We recommend storing Ingeo™ products away from heat sources and direct sunlight.  Storage should not exceed 110 degrees F.

Q: How long will Earth’s products take to degrade?
Earth’s products typically require composting to biodegrade. 

Sugarcane products can be composted in a home composting environment and they will degrade at the same rate as garden waste.  Corn products will degrade in a home composting environment however commercial composting is recommended.  Corn products are expected to degrade in a commercial composting environment in six months or less.

Heat, moisture and aeration are all factors that affect the rates of biodegrading and composting.  Commercial composting environments typically have more of each which creates the perfect environment for microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae to flourish, the fundamentals to biodegrading and composting.

No one knows if or when plastic and foam products will degrade and what toxins may result when they do.

Q: If I throw Earth’s products in the trash, will they biodegrade in a landfill?
Most landfills are designed to contain and are not designed for biodegradation.  Therefore composting is the best way to ensure products return to their natural state of CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass. 

Please consider using these products even if composting is not available.  All our products are made from plants.  They use less energy to make, emit less CO2 and the materials are annually renewable.  Energy savings, CO2 reduction and annually renewable materials justify using the products.

Q: Are Earth Distributor’s food service products biodegradable and compostable?
Yes.  All products are 100% biodegradable and compostable.



Ingeo Products - CLICK HERE

Q: What is Ingeo™ plastic?
Ingeo™ biopolymer is Natureworks' branded PLA.  PLA stands for polylactic acid or polylactide, a versatile biodegradable and compostable plastic made from corn.  

To learn more about Ingeo™ click here or visit www.natureworksllc.com.

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 common and abundant corn grown in the United States.  At full capacity the producer of Natureworks LLC will use less than one half of one percent of the US corn supply.

Q: Can custom Ingeo™ products be made?
Yes, custom products can be made.  Please contact us to discuss your specific packaging needs.

Q: Can Ingeo™ products be printed on?
Yes, Ingeo™ products can be printed.  Please contact us to discuss your labeling and branding requirements.

Q: What is the heat tolerance of Ingeo™ products?
Normal heat tolerance of our Ingeo™ products is 110 degrees F however our corn cutlery is heat tolerant to 200 degrees F.  Please store Ingeo™ products in a cool dry place away from direct heat and sunlight at temperatures at or below 110 degrees F.

Q: How long do Ingeo™ products take to biodegrade or compost?
Ingeo™ products will degrade into non-toxic elements in a home composting environment however commercial composting is recommended.  Ingeo™ products typically degrade in six months or less in a commercial composting environment but may take a year or more in a home system.

Q: If I throw Ingeo™ products in the trash, will they biodegrade in a landfill?
Most landfills are designed to contain their contents and are not designed for biodegration.  Therefore composting is the best way to ensure our Ingeo™ products return to their natural state of CO2, water, inorganic compounds and biomass. 

Our cold cups, portion cups, deli containers and the lining of our hot cups are made from Ingeo™.  The production of Ingeo™ emits 77 percent less CO2 and consumes 56 percent less energy than the equivalent weight of PET.

Please consider using these products even if composting is not available.  Energy savings, CO2 reduction, and the use of renewable materials justify their use.

Q: Can I microwave Ingeo™ products?
Ingeo™ products are not made for the microwave or oven however it is freezer safe.

Q: Are Ingeo™ products edible?
Although the products are made from corn they are not recommended for human consumption.



Sugarcane Products - CLICK HERE

Q: What are sugarcane products made from?
Sugarcane products are made from the fiber remaining after processing sugarcane.  The fiber is a waste product that would otherwise be disposed of or incinerated.

Q: Is sugarcane fiber supply renewable?
Yes.  More than 1,333 million metric tons of sugar cane is produced annually.

Q: What is the heat tolerance of the sugarcane products?
Sugarcane products are heat tolerant to approximately 200 degrees F.

Q: Can sugarcane products handle liquids and grease?
Sugarcane products are soak proof and grease resistant however hot liquids may result in condensation on the outside of the product and cause the product to soften.

Q: Are sugarcane products more environmentally friendly than paper?
Most people consider sugarcane products to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable than paper, plastic or foam based items.

  • The recycled waste fiber that remains after processing sugarcane is used produce our products.
  • Our items are 100% “Tree Free”.  
  • Sugarcane grows in 12 to 24 months while trees typically take 20 years or more.
  • Sugarcane fiber is abundant and renewable.
  • Plastic and foam items are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource.


Q: How long does it take for sugarcane products to fully biodegrade and compost?
Sugarcane products are fully compostable and biodegradable and will degrade at the same rate as garden waste.  Our sugarcane items will degrading in 90 days or less in a commercial facility and approximately 90 days in a home system.
 
Q: Can I microwave sugarcane products?
Yes, sugarcane products are microwave safe.

Q: Can I freeze sugarcane products?
Yes, sugarcane products are freezer safe?