What is Sugarcane Bagasse?

Sugarcane bagasse is the stalk of the sugarcane plant. After the sugar is extracted, the remaining by-product is called bagasse. This by-product is usually burned, emitting carbon into the atmosphere and causing health risks to local residents. Instead, Emerald pulps bagasse into Tree-Free™ paper. This combats deforestation while giving new life to a formerly wasted resource. Sugarcane is also rapidly renewable, which means it grows to full-size in less than one year!

What is PLA?

PLA stands for polylactic acid. PLA is a plastic substitute made from fermented plant starch, such as cornstarch, and is an environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional petroleum-based plastics. PLA is also biodegradable, which means it is capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

Emerald’s Compostable Cold Cups are made with PLA and are also chlorine free, petroleum free, BPA Free and printed with water-based ink.

Why Tree-FreeTM?

Emerald helps combat deforestation with its Tree-Free™ paper line by producing with rapidly renewable agricultural fibers like sugarcane bagasse and wheat straw, which are traditionally burned, instead of hardwood trees.

Deforestation is a main driver in climate change. Trees preserve and maintain the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fulfill this role, many former forest lands will become barren desserts.

Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests amounts to larger greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and therefore leads to an increase in the speed and severity of climate change.

Why Petroleum free?

Petroleum free products are made with either clay, plant starch, or polylactic acid (PLA) instead of the traditionally used petroleum based plastics. PLA is derived from cornstarch and is better for both ourselves and the environment.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical component that is detected in plastic and has been strongly associated with health risks such as: obesity, diabetes, problems with fertility and reproductive organs, susceptibility to various cancers and ADHD. Petroleum is also a fossil fuel, which contains high percentages of carbon therefore causing damage and adding to climate change. The most effective way to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The average time for a petroleum-based plastic bottle to completely breakdown is at least 450 years and some plastic may actually take up to 1,000 years. Emerald’s PLA products help to reduce the amount of plastic pollution while offering a healthier alternative to petroleum based plastics.

Compostable vs. Biodegradable

A biodegradable product will completely break down and decompose into the elements found in nature within a reasonably short amount of time after disposal. A compostable product means it can biodegrade in a home or commercial composting facility. 

The main difference between a biodegradable product and a compostable product is that a compostable product will break down into “humus,” which provides valuable nutrients to soil. Biodegradable products just return to nature, disintegrating or disappearing completely.