Environmentally friendly cleaning products, food service disposables, and packaging supplies are surrounded by a plethora of confusing terms, abbreviations, materials, etc. Today we are breaking them down below.
Compostable: Products that “break down into useable compost, a material that enriches the soil and returns nutrients to the earth.” Compostable products are regulated by measurable industry standards; biodegradable products are not. They also are proven to decompose quickly. Look for the words “BPI Certified” when buying compostable items; this ensures that they are reliably compostable.
Biodegradable: Product that “breaks down and decomposes into elements found in nature when it’s exposed to light, air, moisture, certain bacteria, or other organisms” Note, that landfills typically do not meet the criteria (light exposure, moisture, bacteria, etc.) to decompose biodegrade products properly.
PLA: Polylactic acid, “made from dextrose by fermentation. Dextrose is made from starch, and starch is produced from plant sources, such as corn, sugarcane or beets. PLA is clear and strong like petroleum-based plastic, but can be commercially composted”.
Post-Consumer: Recycled plastic that has already been used and appropriately recycled and repurposed to create new products. i.e., a recycled plastic water bottle (PCR)
Pre-Consumer: Scraps and unused materials from production processes that can be repurposed to make new products.
Bagasse: A Fibrous, paper-like substance made from sugarcane stocks. Products made from Bagasse are fully compostable.
Pet and rPet: PET is Polyethylene Terephthalate, clear plastic that is 100% recyclable. rPET is the recycled form of PET
VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds, these are chemicals found in several different products and cleaning products, can be harmful, dangerous or unsafe.
Safer-Choice/EPA Certified: Products that have this label have gone under stringent review with the Environmental Protection Agency and are deemed safer for you and the environment. Chemical companies that receive this label have undergone a rigorous examination. All products and components used to manufacture and package such items must meet safe/environmental standards.
Learn more about Green Guidelines at the Federal Trade Commission, here.