The Summer of Sustainability – with UrthPact!

What is it about summer that makes want to make even more sustainable choices than the rest of the year? Could it be that we spend more time outdoors during the summer at the beach, hiking in the wilderness, or spending time with family and friends? Is it that we associate summer with our oceans and sustainable seas are one of the most important areas of sustainability? Or could it be that humans are continuing to dump millions of tons of plastic waste into the ocean? If you agreed with any of the above, you’d be right! During the summer time, people have a tendency to spend more time outside, making them more aware of their natural world and their own effects on it. And for those of us who don’t mind sand in our toes and salt in our hair, a lot of that time is spent at the beach, where we can often see marine plastic pollution first hand. And it’s currently estimated that up to 200 million tons of plastic waste is already in our oceans; a number that continues to rise as plastic waste production reaches all time highs. We bring you the Summer of Sustainability to encourage you to make sustainable choices this summer, and give you some tips to be greener and bluer!

One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable while adventuring this summer is to try and use all reusable products and containers on your trips! Water bottles, reusable plastic containers, and metal straws are all easy products to carry along with you to store all of your snacks and beverages, and they help to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste we put into our waste system. If you do have to use a single-use plastic – like a plastic water bottle or a chip bag – be sure to dispose of it in the right place! If you’re at the beach, bring a trash bag for all of your disposables, and carry them home. If you use a plastic bottle on a hike, put it back in your bag to recycle it at the bottom of the trail or at home. By ensuring we dispose of our trash in the right places, we greatly reduce the chance of it ending up as litter somewhere, whether that’s the land or the sea.

Another tactic if you need to use disposables this summer is try and find more sustainable disposables than traditional, petroleum-based plastic ones. Plastic straws and cutlery have lifetimes of hundreds to thousands of years, and they only ever break down to tiny microplastics. These microplastics are then ingested by animals that are consumed by humans, absorbed by plants, and even scattered about the world via wind and water. New studies show that humans are consuming 5 grams of plastic a day! Let’s put that in perspective: 5 grams per day is 1,825 grams of plastic per year, or about 4 pounds, or the same weight as your average bottle of ketchup. That’s A LOT of plastic for humans to be consuming! And the same negative effects that plastic waste has on wildlife also applies to humans: toxic leeching, risk for disease, and everything in between. By choosing disposables that are compostable, and overall, more sustainable, you not only protect the planet, but yourself as well.

The Summer of Sustainability is only 3 months out of the year. At UrthPact, we use this time of year to encourage our team and our partners to make more sustainable decisions for our planet. But in reality, only being sustainable in the summer isn’t enough. In order to reverse the damage done to our planet by plastics, we need a full year of everyone making more sustainable choices. No single person can do it alone. So encourage your friends, family, neighbors, and business partners to make more planet-friendly choices, not just this summer, but all year round. 

UrthPact Launches New Disposable, Home Compostable Black Straw for Use in All Food Service Venues

Leominster, MA. (July 5, 2022): UrthPact – the leader in compostable foodservice ware manufacturing, announces the addition of a black straw to its disposable straw product line. 

Made from plants, PHA is produced through natural fermentation processes using plant oils such as soy and canola, which degrades easily and entirely in multiple environments, including home and commercial compost, soil, and marine. This innovative material lends itself perfectly to straw use. The straws will not get soggy like paper straws, but they are also a game-changer in reducing the single-use plastic straw pollution plaguing our oceans and landfills. They satisfy both environmental activists and the straw sipping consumer.

“Our straws not only help mitigate the single-use global plastic problem, unlike paper straws, consumers cannot tell the difference, ensuring they have the same experience they’ve come to expect,” said UrthPact CEO Paul Boudreau.

Introduced at the National Restaurant Association Show in May of this year, UrthPact is now able to meet the demands of both current and prospective customers. “This straw is just an example of our ability to develop custom-colored straws for any brand,” added Boudreau. 

UrthPact’s straws come in a variety of sizes, including Cocktail, Jumbo Standard, Giant Standard, Jumbo Long, and Giant Long. UrthPact straws are available through various regional and national distributors. They are used by restaurants, juice bars, hotels, convenience stores, and other businesses that currently offer straws to their customers. 

Manufactured in Leominster, MA, and Sacramento, CA, UrthPact straws reduce the pollution caused by plastic waste. By offering UrthPact straws, businesses reduce the pollution generated by shipping plastic straws from China, CO2 pollution and damage to our forests during the production of a paper straws.   

UrthPact straws meet the current city and state plastic bans in the US, Canada, and other countries and helps companies fulfill their sustainability mission.

About UrthPact

Founded in 2013, UrthPact’s mission is to reduce the impact of single-use plastics in our environment by creating single-use products from earth-friendly materials that meet the needs of businesses and consumers. UrthPact is dedicated to its mission of keeping 25 billion plastic parts from polluting landfills and oceans by 2028. To date, products have included compostable cutlery lines that work in a dispensing unit, industrial compostable one-way degassing valves, and compostable drinking straws, as well as the world’s first 100% compostable single-use coffee pod used in Keurig brewers and the world’s only certified compostable water bottle, cap, and label. Visit www.urthpact.com to learn more, or follow UrthPact on LinkedIn, Facebook, or @urthpact_llc on Instagram and @urthpact on Twitter.

What Can UrthPact Do for You?

Are you looking to make sustainable changes in your business but aren’t sure where to start? Is your city implementing plastic bans that you need to comply with? Are you customers demanding that you make better choices for the planet? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then UrthPact is here to help. Our goal is to help you help the planet, while still providing high quality products to your customers and their end users, while also complying with local plastics ordinances. Our compostable product lines help to provide the experiences your customers expect from their single-use problems without causing any harm to the planet.

Plastic is bad. We all know it, we’ve all heard it, and we’ve all had the 3 R’s jammed into our head for years now: reduce, reuse, recycle. But we think a 4th R is much more important: rethink. Are single-use products really the problem? Or is the problem that we chose to make them out of a material that was originally designed to last hundreds of years? New technology has allowed us to produce the products we know and love from materials that are much more environmentally friendly. At UrthPact, one of our main goals is to help educate the world on compostable bioplastics, and the potential that these materials have for the future of the single-use products industry. When you partner with us to provide compostables to your customers, you don’t just get a manufacturing partner; you also get an educational partner. We’ll provide you with a wealth of knowledge and resources to help explain and communicate to your customers the positive choices you’re making for the planet, and how that directly reflects back to them. Studies show that consumers are actively changing their buying preferences and habits based on the sustainability of a business, and therefore communicating your sustainable choices is a key piece of your success.

On top of providing a wide range of resources for you to utilize with your customers, we also help businesses to build a more sustainable brand image. We’ve been in this field a long time, and our team has lots of experience in creating a seamless brand experience on our products. Because we are 100% customizable, you can communicate your brand’s message through custom packaging, implementation of brand colors, and everything in between. And we’ll be there to advise you the entire way. We believe in a win, win, win, win situation: when your customers win, you win, we win, AND the planet wins. We truly believe in the benefits and quality of products, and we want our partners to be able to take them and make them their own. That’s what sets us apart from the competition and allows us to reach a wider customer base. You’ve already built your brand, now let us help you make it more sustainable. 

UrthPact also helps our partners to achieve a variety of sustainability goals. Like we said before: consumers are actively choosing more sustainable businesses to shop from, or to eat at. They’re also willing to spend more money if they know the product or service they are getting in return is sustainable or planet-friendly. Having sustainability goals in place and actively working to achieve them is a great way to make your businesses more planet-friendly in the eyes of consumers. Implementing compostable products reduces waste, lowers overall carbon footprint, and gives back to the environment when they’re disposed of. And, they’ll satisfy your customers’ needs as well. They won’t turn to mush in a smoothie, cause your coffee to be weaker, or snap in half when you try to cut a burger in half. They’ll provide all of the functionality that your customers expect but still push you closer to your sustainability goals than anything made of plastic would.

At UrthPact, we want to see our partners succeed. When our partners win, we win, and the planet wins. We are behind you 100% of the way, whether it’s assisting with sustainability messaging and marketing, providing educational resources, or reaching sustainability goals. Our long-term goal is to keep 25 billion pieces of plastic from reaching oceans and landfills. And we can’t reach that goal without all of our incredible partners, current and future. So to answer the simple question: what can UrthPact do for you? We can help you save the world from plastic.

How Certifications Help to Avoid Greenwashing

Have you ever spotted a product on a grocery store shelf claiming to be “compostable,” “biodegradable,” or “eco-friendly,” and wondered how that could possibly be true? How can single-use disposable products traditionally made from plastic become compostable or biodegradable? Well, it’s not impossible. Bioplastics have provided us with a material that can be molded into single-use products that function like plastic but can be broken down to usable compost. The challenge is identifying which of those “eco-friendly” products are ACTUALLY compostable. When the green revolution began back in the 1980’s, companies realized that consumers were willing to spend more money with businesses that had sustainable practices or provided eco-friendly products. This led to the birth of greenwashing: conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.

Greenwashing began as businesses took advantage of consumers’ lack of knowledge around sustainable business practices and products. In order to protect consumers, regulations were put in place to ensure claims of sustainability were accurate claims of sustainability. The FTC Green Guides outline these rules for businesses, and the claims they are allowed to make surrounding sustainable products and practices. One of the main points of the Green Guides is that scientific testing is required to back up any claims of sustainability, and that generic phrases like “eco-friendly” should generally be avoided because they are often misleading. One of the best ways to provide a solid and legal claim that is also backed by strong science and a third party evaluation is to look for compostability certifications on compostable products.

Compostability certifications come from 3 main certifying bodies: TUV Austria, BPI (the Biodegradable Products Institute), and CMA (the Compost-Manufacturing Alliance). If you find logos from any of these 3 organizations on a sustainable product, you can rest assured knowing that any claims of sustainability, compostability, or biodegradability are backed by science and 100% true. There’s no greenwashing when there are certifications involved. This comes in handy when you’re selling products in multiple different states. The Green Guides are a federal requirement, but some states (like California for example) have tighter greenwashing regulations than just the Green Guides. Certifications ensure that you are compliant with greenwashing regulations no matter where the product is sold. You may have to be a bit more careful with the wording of your claims (for example, the word “biodegradable” is no longer allowed to be used in claims in California because it is too often used in a misleading way), but overall, your products, business, and customers will be covered when your products are certified.

Greenwashing is a fickle concept. With different regulations in different areas, and now with more and more states and cities also bringing in single-use plastics bans, there’s A LOT to worry about when you’re marketing a sustainable product. But certifications provide a simple solution. While acquiring them does require some time and monetary investment, they’ll serve you well in the long run in protecting your business and your customers. So remember: buy and sell certified!

Single-Use Plastics Bans are Back!

When did plastic bans leave in the first place you ask? Well, you can check out the original story on our blog here, but the gist of the story is that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of cities rolled back single-use plastics bans that were in place or in development in order to accommodate problems associated with the quarantine and pandemic. Now, we get it – it was a global pandemic, the world had a lot going on. But does that really make protecting our planet from plastic less important? NO. Luckily, now that we’ve learned how to live in this new, covid-managed world, single-use plastics bans are coming back with a vengeance, as people are starting to realize the damage we did during COVID.

As of 2021, over 8 million tons of pandemic-generated plastic waste had been produced. To put that in perspective, that’s an ADDITIONAL 8 million tons on top of the 300 million tons we already produce. That’s not an insignificant amount! In a time when our plastic pollution problem was getting worse, why did we consider part of the solution to be removing the legislation that at least did a little bit to reduce the amount of plastic waste we produced, pandemic-generated or not? We should have been striving to put a dent in the 300 million to make room for the 8 million. Instead, we allowed pollution levels to skyrocket, leaving us with an even larger problem than we had before.

Here’s the positive side: single-use plastics bans are back and on the rise. One of the most notable plastic bans going into effect this year was in New York City. NYC has had a plastic bag ban in place since October of 2020. More recently, they’ve enacted a plastic straw and stirrer ban. The ban was enacted in November of 2021, and businesses have 1 year to find and implement alternatives prior to being fined. Fines will begin in November of 2022. The fines for this ban mirror many other plastic straw and stirrer bans nationwide: $100 for first offense, $200 for the second, and $400 for the third and all subsequent offenses.

Having a big city like New York take steps forward to fight plastic pollution is a great example to set for cities not only throughout the US, but throughout the world. It proves that bans like this can be implemented and (hopefully) enforced successfully in large cities. It’s estimated that the USA used 1.6 straws per person per day. If we apply this to New York City (a population of 8.419 million people), that means that they’ll be keeping 13.47 million plastic straws from heading to oceans and landfills EVERY DAY. That’s nearly 5 BILLION straws saved per year in a single city in the US. Imagine if every large city in the world had bans in place like this. Imagine the dent we could make in the plastic pollution problem.

Plastic pollution doesn’t just put marine life at risk, but it can put terrestrial wildlife and humans at risk too. When animals consume plastic and then we consume meat, we are consuming the same chemicals that those animals did. It’s estimated that in a year, we consume as much as a half a pound of plastic. Is that really a number we want to continue to rise? Plastic bans are a great place to start fixing this problem. More cities should take a page out of New York’s book. Plastic bans are back, and it’s time for the world to get on board.