We know there’s still lots of confusion about plant based alternatives to plastic and planet love. It’s our goal to help demystify all the science-speak with as much everyday language as possible. You’ll find some of the most common questions we receive as well as what do do if you have any questions regarding your order below. If you need any further assistance, please get in touch
What is a bioplastic?
A material can be called a “bioplastic” if it contains a minimum of 25% plant-based material. When we say “plant-based”, it means that it comes from renewable, plant-based sources. Plant sources currently used for bioplastics are often corn, sugarcane or cellulose, depending on what’s most readily available in the country of manufacture. There’s lots of development happening to expand the source of plant-based materials to include agricultural waste and even CO2 re-capture, which is pretty exciting stuff. The building blocks for our plant-based products and packaging can come from any of these emerging sources, and we intend to integrate the latest developments as they become commercially viable.
What do you mean by plant-based plastic? Is it different than a bioplastic? And what's this PLA thing you keep mentioning?
There are lots of different terms used to describe bio-based materials and bioplastics. good natured® packaging and products are made using bioplastics, but we like to use the term “plant-based” to keep things real-world and easy to understand. We also add the exact percentage of plant-based material so you know exactly what you’re getting—for instance, our cupcake packaging is made from 99% plant-based material. This is slightly different than just saying it’s a bioplastic, which is a technical term meaning the material must contain a minimum of 25% plant-based ingredients. The other 75% can be anything really, which raises a few flags. PLA, known as polylactic acid or polylactide, is a biodegradable thermoplastic (in simple terms, a plastic that can be heated and cooled multiple times, and also will break down into natural elements) derived from renewable resources, most typically made today using cornstarch or sugarcane. Most plant-based packaging currently on the market is produced using a PLA base as it’s readily available and cost effective. If you want to learn more about the different iterations of plant-based plastics, check out our bioplastics
What is your material made of?
If it’s a bioplastic, we typically use either a PLA base or bio-PE to make most of our products and packaging. These materials are currently produced from either corn starch or sugarcane, although we expect this to continue to evolve quickly as technology advances. From the base material, our technical team adds additional “herbs and spices” to make the material perform at optimum levels. For our food packaging, we start with a base of “PLA” or polylactic acid. Our bins and totes are primarily I’m Green™ by Braskem and our desk accessories are made from a proprietary blend that our brainy scientists developed in-house. Our takeout packaging is made from bagasse (sugarcane) or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) paperboard.
What if i'm allergic to corn?
The chemical substance in corn that causes allergic reactions, the allergen, is called profilin. Profilin is a protein that breaks down and be completely destroyed at temperatures over 55°C. In order to produce PLA bioplastic resin, the initial raw material, corn, goes through the following high heat processes:
1. Starch is extracted from the corn. Corn, depending on its source, contains about 5-9% protein and 60-65% starch. In order to extract the starch, corn gets cleaned and then goes through steeping (wet milling) where it gets soaked in water above 50°C) for over 40 hrs to break the starch and protein bonds. Then the starch is separated from gluten by centrifugation. At this point it might still contain about 1% protein. In order to remove the last traces of protein, it goes through multiple wash cycles.
2. The resulting starch is converted to D-glucose (dextrose) and then to lactic acid.
3. The lactic acid is then “polymerized” to produce PLA resin at over 200°C.
Given the long timeframes of applied heat, plus the final polymerization stage where the temperature far exceeds the level at which corn proteins can remain intact, the resulting PLA resin is free from any trace of initial substances, particularly, the immunologically reactive allergen, profilin. We want to make sure you have the information you need to make an informed decision for your health and well-being. If you have further questions regarding allergens, please contact us
directly for more information or reference material.
Are the plants that you use taking away from the food supply?
Corn is currently the main source of raw materials in North American sourced PLA based bioplastic because it’s incredibly abundant. In commercial farming facilities, not all corn goes to sit on the dinner table, and there are by-products made available through the corn refining process. For instance, a corn crop could be used to make a combination of corn oil, animal feed, sweetener or maybe even plant-based plastics. Altogether, bioplastics use less than 1% of global corn supply annually. Compare that with the 33% of food that gets wasted every year… The impact of plant-based plastics on food supply is extremely small.
The bagasse we use in our takeout packaging is a by-product of sugar cane production and our SFI paperboard follows strict certification guidelines in sourcing responsibly from forests. You can learn more about the certification at sfiprogram.org.
Do your products contain toxic chemicals like BPAs or phthalates?
Absolutely not! We are 100% committed to keeping BPAs, phthalates, fluorocarbons, phytoestrogens and all those other nasty chemicals out of our packaging and products. Check out the list of things you won’t find in our stuff here
End Of Life Options
What does biodegradable mean? What does compostable mean? And what the heck is the difference?
Long story short: “biodegradable” means a product will break down into elements found in nature over time. The biodegradation process and timeline is dependent on the surrounding environmental conditions (e.g. location or temperature), and there is no regulated timeline in which a material labelled as biodegradable must break down. “Compostable” means a product will break down in a commercial composting facility into elements found in nature and be usable as soil within 180 days. This regulated timeframe is what creates the big difference between a product that can be certified compostable and one that is biodegradable. There’s also a huge difference between saying something is biodegradable and saying that it’s “degradable”. There are no regulations about what a degradable product will break down into and over what period of time, meaning it could leach harmful elements into the environment. To add to the fun and excitement, not every biodegradable plastic is compostable, and not every plant-based plastic is biodegradable. This is a big topic with a lot of terms that get used interchangeably when they really shouldn’t, so if you’re still a little lost (totally fair), check out our compostable packaging
page. Our goal is to lift the fog as best as possible and let you make an informed decision.
Can I compost bioplastics in my backyard?
The certification process for compostability is limited to commercial facilities where the exact temperature and mixing for optimum biodegradability can be regularly monitored. While compostable plastics may start to show signs of biodegradation in a home compost over time, they likely won’t disappear within a 180-day timeframe. The composting process is activated by a precise combination of heat, sunlight and moisture. This balance between “it’ll break down only under certain conditions” and “it’ll break down whenever, wherever” is actually what makes compostable packaging possible—it’ll stay intact on a store shelf or while holding your food, but it can be broken down and used again to grow more plants once sent to a composting facility.
Why should I buy compostable instead of recyclable?
Firstly, our packaging is also recyclable! You can find more information on that below. In the meantime, there are a lot of other benefits to using compostable packaging. Using compostable packaging can actually help the recycling stream, because your food scraps and its container can all go in the same composting bin, which decreases food contamination in recycling. Also, when a package is composted, that compost can be placed back in the environment. It then can help create a variety of things, such as food, landscaping, or maybe more plant-based plastics. Recycling, on the other hand, does not get put back into the environment – at least not intentionally! For instance, once an aluminum can is made, you’re not going to break that can back down into its components and put it back in a mine. Certain types of recyclable materials *cough, petroleum-based plastic, cough* also lose their quality when they’re recycled, meaning that the plastic milk jug you recycled isn’t going to be another milk jug in its next life without having some performance-enhancing boosters added to the recycled material. Eventually the raw materials become too fragile and low quality to be processed and end up in the landfill, which means traditional recycling alone cannot get us out of our waste epidemic. That is, if it even gets recycled in the first place!
What if I don’t have an industrial composter that accepts bioplastics in my area?
Even though composting is the ideal resting place for our packaging, we understand that it’s not always an option depending on where you live. The good news is, a growing list of recycling facilities also accept PLA (our materials can also be recycled multiple times before eventually being composted)! While the recycling industry catches up, we know our commitment to delivering products and packaging made from annually renewable materials and no chemicals of concern is a better choice for us and the environment than fossil fuels.
Are your products recyclable?
Our bioplastic packaging is recyclable, yes! There’s no technical barrier to our plant-based materials being re-used. If it’s a product that has a #7 on the bottom, it’s the “other” resin code
but that doesn’t mean it can’t be re-used and recycled. A huge number of materials carry this same code, over 16,000 other types of plastic that don’t fit into the traditional #1 – #6 identification, actually. Many recyclers still use visual sorting processes instead of the latest infrared identification technology. They find it difficult to distinguish between all the different types of materials, and so they focus on the easiest to identify and sell in the aftermarket. Lack of recycling is more of an industry issue and not a materials science issue. When you hear that bioplastics are not recyclable, what they’re really saying is that the recycler does not have the sorting equipment to differentiate between grades of plastic… yet. It does not mean that the material cannot be used again. In fact, we use our own materials over again wherever possible (check out the FAQ on “does your packaging contain recycled content?” for more info on this!) As for our takeout packaging, which is made from bagasse or SFI paperboard, it's intended to be composted, not recycled.
Do bioplastics contaminate recycling streams?
That depends entirely on the recycling facility. Many things contaminate recycling streams. Food particles, and especially oils, remaining on food packaging contaminate recycling streams. Lids left on bottles and jars contaminate certain recycling streams. Labels left on containers can contaminate recycling streams. Basically, anything that requires a plastic to be further manipulated, washed or sorted is considered to contaminate the recycling stream. Bioplastics often take the rap for all of this, but they’re no more contaminating than any of these other factors. Another aspect to contamination is if a recycling facility is not receiving enough of a particular type of material to economically sort and re-sell it for profit. Many recyclers are optimized to sort PET #1 bottles and HDPE #2 milk jugs for this reason. When a material arrives that does not meet this profile, recyclers complain that it creates delays and reduces their profitability. For many recyclers, bioplastics are still in the “too small to bother” category, but that does not mean they’re contaminating at a technical level.
Does your packaging contain recycled content?
It sure does! We use up to 35% recycled content in our plant-based bioplastic food packaging. Most of this currently comes from post industrial trim from our own production, but we’re assembling more sources of recycled bioplastic that can be used in our manufacturing processes. Note to recyclers… We’ll take it! Check out our FAQ on “do bioplastics contaminate recycling streams?” for more info on this.
What happens when your packaging ends up in the landfill? Or in the environment?
For our compostable food packaging, it is also biodegradable and there will be some biodegradation in a landfill or in the environment; however there are no set statistics to confirm how long this process will take. In fact, all plastics will degrade to some extent, and that has always been a cornerstone of our Green Chemistry approach. As plastics degrade, they begin to release some of their chemical compounds into the surrounding land and water. It’s for this reason that we remain staunchly committed to using the maximum plant-based materials and no hazardous chemicals that may leach into the environment.
What happens if they end up in the ocean?
You’re right to be concerned about this. We are too! Keeping foreign materials out of our oceans is becoming more and more crucial, especially plastics. Our products and packaging have not been tested for this specific end-of-life option, and we don’t make “greenwashing” claims that can’t be supported with specific evidence. In the spirit of supporting a renewable, closed loop economy, our #1 goal is to have our materials end up in the appropriate facilities where we can re-use them or turn them into compost.
Are your bioplastics as durable as petroleum plastics?
Yup! We’ve worked really hard to make sure that’s the case. Very often, the materials we use perform the same if not better than their fossil fuel counterparts. We also have a keen focus on design and form to further increase durability and performance. In some cases, we’re able to both downgauge a package (meaning reduce the thickness of the material and thus save both weight and resources) and improve its durability at the same time.
Do bioplastics cost more than traditional plastics?
They don’t have to. Cost is a combination of the materials, manufacturing processes, distribution and marketing. On a pound-for-pound basis, most bioplastics cost more than their fossil fuel-based counterparts. However, our approach to combining the best materials, optimized designs and our own distribution networks means our product and packaging programs are often cost neutral, or even less than traditional plastics.
Can I put your packaging in the freezer/microwave/oven?
Most are just fine in the freezer. You’re going to end up with a melty mess if you put them in the microwave or the oven if they’re not marked as microwave-safe or oven-safe, although our melty mess will be free of BPAs and phthalates, unlike some of the traditional stuff ;). Unless you’re doing a Wizard of Oz plastics reenactment, we don’t recommend heating bioplastic packaging beyond 45°C (113°F) unless it’s specifically marked as microwave or oven safe.
How are your products going to help me meet my company’s sustainability goals?
There are many ways we can help you make meet your eco-friendly objectives. Here are some of the benefits beyond reducing reliance on fossil fuels:
• Our products and packaging are made without any chemicals of concern. If you’re focused on reducing potentially hazardous chemicals, our plant-based products and packaging can make an impact.
• If you’re increasing your use of renewables (or kicking fossil fuels to the curb, as we like to say!), our products and packaging are made with the maximum possible plant-based materials.
• Bioplastics can be produced using less energy, meaning you may benefit from an immediate reduction in CO2 emissions. Full disclosure, however – specific CO2 reductions have to be confirmed through custom life cycle assessments that take into account your current processes and transportation network.
Can you make a package to fit my specific product needs?
How do I place an order?
Ordering online from good natured® is fast and easy… and you can do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the product you’re looking for isn’t available in our online store, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org - we’d be happy to help you get your hands on it!
What If I want to place a volume or wholesale order?
For volume and wholesale orders, please give us a call on 1-877-286-0617.
What if a product is out of stock?
If the product you’re interested in is out of stock, please send us a note at email@example.com or call 1-877-286-0617. We’ll be able to let you know when the item will be back in stock or suggest something else that may work.
What payment methods can I use?
We accept all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express, as well as PayPal.
Will I get an order confirmation when I complete my purchase?
Once you’ve placed your order, you’ll receive a confirmation email shortly after. We’ll also send you emails when your order has shipped, when it’s about to be delivered and when it arrives. If you don’t receive an order confirmation email, check your “junk” folder as it may be in there. If you still don’t see it, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you get it.
Do you charge taxes?
Packaging items being used a part of your business operations are exempt from sales tax. For consumer product purchases, depending on sales tax regulations in your state and our business presence, an applicable amount for sales tax may be added to your order during the check-out process.
When will my credit card be charged?
We will authorize your purchase on your credit card at the time you place your order.
Can I cancel or modify my order?
Yes, you can. You can cancel or modify your order at any time before it’s shipped. Log in to your good natured® account or use the link in your order confirmation email to manage your order.
Where can I find my order number?
You can find your order number at the top of your order summary in your good natured® account or at the top of your order confirmation email.
Why was my order cancelled?
We never cancel an order unless you ask us to or we aren’t able to fulfill it. It may be that your shipping or billing information was incorrect or some information in your order is incomplete. We’ll send you a notification with details on why your order was cancelled and to see if there’s anything we can do to help.
What are my shipping and delivery options?
Standard shipping is included on all orders, and you can expect your order to arrive in 7-10 business days from the time you place your order. If you need it to arrive more urgently, we also offer an Expedited Shipping service which will arrive in 2-5 business days after you receive your order confirmation.
Rates for Expedited Shipping, which will vary depending on order size and delivery location, will be displayed in your shopping cart and charged to you during checkout.
What If I am outside of the US? Do you ship internationally?
If you’re located in Canada, please click here to visit our Canadian store. If you’re outside of the US or Canada, please send us a note at email@example.com or give us a call on 1-877-286-0617 and we can discuss the available shipping options.
Can I ship to a PO Box?
We use FedEx for most deliveries, and they do not deliver to PO Boxes. If we have any issues with your shipment, we’ll get in touch to discuss and you’ll have an opportunity to cancel your order if we can’t accommodate shipping.
How do I track my order?
We will send you a notification when your order ships, when it’s on its way to you and when it arrives. In between these notifications, you can always track your order and delivery timing by clicking on the links in your shipment emails or by accessing your good natured® account.
What if my order is damaged?
Our return and exchange policy for home and office products lasts 30 days from the date of purchase. If more than 30 days have gone by since your purchase, unfortunately we can’t offer you a refund or exchange, so please make sure to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org right away if your order is damaged.
For non-refundable goods, and more specifically packaging, we provide you with 48 hours after delivery to send us any applicable evidence of discrepancies in quantity, incorrect goods or damage to your order to email@example.com. In this case, we’ll remediate the discrepancy by replacing the goods or applying a credit to your method of payment. Except as outlined above, all packaging sales are made on a one-way basis and are not returnable or refundable.
My tracking information says my order was delivered, but I haven’t received it. What do I do?
We’re sorry your order hasn’t found its way all the way home yet! When the tracking information says that the package has been delivered, it means that it has been delivered to the shipping address provided when you checked out. You can try the following options to try to locate it:
- Double-check the shipping address you provided for your order to make sure it was correct.
- Check with your household members, colleagues or neighbours at that address in case someone else picked it up for you.
- Check with the security guard, mailroom or front desk.
- Contact your local post office to see if they are holding the package for you.
- Wait 24 – 48 hours for your package to arrive—on rare occasions, the carrier may mark the package as being delivered earlier than it actually is.
If you’re still not able to locate your package, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with your order number and we’ll be happy to help.
What if I’m not present to receive my shipment?
Depending on the shipping provider, they may try to re-deliver on the next business day or they may send your shipment to a local pick-up point. Some carriers will also let you change the delivery address – you can access this option by clicking on the tracking number in your shipment emails and/or your account order detail page.
What happens if my order was returned to sender?
We might already be aware of this and be getting in touch, but please send us a note at email@example.com right away so we can get this resolved.
Returns & Exchanges
I’ve changed my mind about my purchase. How can I return or exchange it?
Our return and exchange policy for home and office products lasts 30 days from the date of purchase. If more than 30 days have gone by since your purchase, unfortunately we can’t offer you a refund or exchange.
Except if damaged, all packaging sales are made on a one-way basis and are not returnable or refundable.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org before returning any shipment to us. In some cases, we do not require items to be physically returned to us to be eligible for refund.
When will I receive my refund for my returned product?
If your order is eligible for a refund, we’ll process that back to your original method of payment. Keep in mind it may take several weeks or up to 2 billing cycles for the refund to appear on your statement.
Do you refund shipping charges?
We do not refund shipping charges.
For more information about our return policy, please click here.