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Sustainability Glossary of Terms

Bagasse

The dry, pulpy material that remains after crushing sugarcane. Sugarcane is a perennial tropical grass that grows in about a year. This makes bagasse a very eco-friendly option because it's a rapidly renewable source. Additionally, the manufacturing process requires less energy, chemicals, and water than wood.

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Biodegradable

A biodegradable product is any item that undergoes degradation resulting from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae. The time it takes to break down is not defined, but biodegradable products are broken down in much less time than non-biodegradable products. However, a product that is biodegradable can leave visible, toxic residue in the environment.

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Compostable

A compostable product is capable of breaking down into natural elements in a compost environment. Breakdown usually takes about 90 days and causes no harm to the environment. However, if a product claims to be compostable, it does not mean you can throw it on the side of the road with peace of mind. Some products are only industrially compostable, and must be taken to an industrial plant to be properly composted. Products that don't need an industrial compost environment should still be composted in a proper home compost bin.

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Curbside recyclable

A product that is curbside recyclable can be successfully recycled by placing it in your home recycling bin to be collected and sorted at a local recycling facility. It’s important to note that different areas have different recycling capabilities, so make sure to check the recycling capabilities in your area. The good news is that 96% of the U.S. population has access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs (AF&PA), and paper-based packaging accounts for 71.3% of the nearly 27 million tons of packaging materials recovered for recycling (U.S. EPA).

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Ecovadis Certified

(I’ll get you this definition ASAP!)

FSC certified

Products bearing this label are sourced from forests that have been audited by an independent third party to confirm they are managed according to FSC’s rigorous social and environmental standards that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

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Green-e certified

Green-e Energy Certified is the nation's leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market. The certification and verification of a renewable energy program is essential so that consumers can be certain the renewable energy they purchase meets the highest of standards.

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Green Seal certified

Green Seal is a non-profit third-party organization that evaluates products and awards Green Seal Certification for products that meet rigorous health, environmental, and performance standards. The Green Seal Certification logo displayed on the package allows consumers to identify which products are environmentally preferred. Manufacturers that are awarded Green Seal Certification benefit by allowing an independent certification organization to verify their sustainability efforts and prove their environmental claims.

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PCR/PCW

PCR (post-consumer recycled waste), also known as PCW (post-consumer waste) is made from waste that's been used by a consumer, discarded in the recycling stream, and re-used to manufacture a new product.

PIR

PIR (post-industrial recycled content), also known as pre-consumer recycled content is made from manufacturer waste that never actually made it to the consumer for one reason or another. This could be scraps, rejects, trimmings (the stuff that ends up on the factory floor) that are repurposed into something new rather than trashed.

Recycling contamination

Recycling contamination occurs when materials are sorted into the wrong recycling bin, or when materials are not properly cleaned and contain food residue or grease. We’re all guilty of throwing something in the recycle bin and crossing our fingers that it’ll just get to the right place. Not all contaminants are equal, and while sometimes extra labor can be put into sorting or cleaning the recycling stream, just a little bit of certain contaminants can doom an entire truckload of recyclable items to the trash.

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Virgin material

Materials sourced directly from nature in their raw form, such as wood from trees. Manufacturing products using virgin materials uses much more energy and depletes more natural resources, as opposed to producing goods using recycled materials.

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100% FSC Recycled

Products that bear this label have been verified as being made from 100% recycled content (either post-consumer or pre-consumer reclaimed materials). The use of FSC Recycled products can help to alleviate the pressure of demand on sources of virgin material, thereby helping to protect the world’s forests.

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100% FSC Mix

Products that bear this label are made using a mixture of materials from FSC-certified forests, recycled materials and/or FSC controlled wood. While controlled wood is not from FSC certified forests, it mitigates the risk of the material originating from unacceptable sources.

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