WESTERN'S PRODUCTS OFFER A SUSTAINABLE ADVANTAGE,
but our company offers something more. We are constantly striving to reduce our impact on the environment and share our progress in a transparent manner. We are pushing toward the day our entire product life-cycle will have a net neutral or positive impact on the environment. We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it. Each step of the way, we reduce our environmental footprint and move closer to our objective.
JUST THE FACTS
MADE WITH RECYCLED PAPER
The newspaper we use is collected by charitable organizations and is termed post-consumer. The Kraft, waxed, and other wastepaper we use are termed pre-consumer. Western has a 50+ year history of making great products with wastepaper and we feel proud to use material that might otherwise be headed for the waste stream (landfills, etc.). Did you know that one ton of recycled wastepaper saves the equivalent of between 15 and 17 mature trees? (source: EPA)
BIODEGRADABILITY AND COMPOSTABILITY OF OUR CONTAINERS
At Western, we produce an array of molded fiber greenhouse and nursery containers with different and partially overlapping life expectancies to meet our customers’ diverse growing needs. One thing all of our containers have in common is they are made with recycled paper and are designed to decompose. The time it takes to decompose depends on formulation and a series of environmental factors that affect the container’s life in both positive and negative ways. In the natural environment (under conditions that provide oxygen exchange, moisture and support soil microorganisms), the majority of Western’s molded fiber containers will naturally decompose into organic matter within one year of customary disposal, as defined by the FTC’s Green Guidelines. The metal and nylon hangers, as well as the brass eyelets used on our baskets, are not biodegradable but are recyclable.
CONDITIONS REQUIRED TO BREAK DOWN WOOD FIBER
The paper media must become wet and stay moist for a period of time. Without adequate moisture, the biodegrading process will not take place.
Aerobic (oxygen exchange) conditions are needed to support the bacteria, yeasts, and fungi which “eat” the containers. Without the presence of oxygen (anaerobic) the organisms cannot live and organic matter (paper) will not break down.
The soil temperature must be a minimum of 50–55 degrees Fahrenheit to support organism growth. At soil temperatures lower than 50 degrees, the organisms which consume paper are not active.
Nitrogen is needed to balance the carbon content of the paper. Good soil fertility is not only helpful for plant growth but will also speed the breakdown of our paper containers.
USING CONTAINERS WITH ORGANIC CROPS
Our standard containers are not considered “Organic”, but can be used to grow organic plants. The term Organic, used in reference to the production of food and plants, has strict qualifications that are defined by the USDA and other regulatory agencies. Laws and or regulations are in place requiring specific qualifications be met to term a product “organic”. The standard formulations we use in our molded fiber nursery and greenhouse containers, are completely safe for growing plants, but contain ingredients that do not qualify as organic.
While we do not claim to be an organic product, we have had growers receive approval from Oregon Tilth (An Organic certifying organization recognized by the USDA and others) that organic vegetable transplants can be grown in our molded fiber containers provided that the plant is removed from the container prior to being planted in the soil.
It is our understanding that each grower wanting to seek organic certification for production needs to file a detailed practice and management plan with the certifying agency. There are a number of organizations that provide certification including Oregon Tilth, Florida Certified Organic Growers, California Certified Organic Growers and others.
PLANTING CONTAINERS "POT' N ALL"
For many years, fiber containers have been used for bare root shrubs and trees, and given proper care, can be planted pot and all. The horticultural benefit of planting pot and all is reducing potential transplant shock for plants with unestablished rootballs. By leaving the newly planted shrub or tree in our biodegradable containers, their roots are not disturbed or damaged as they potentially would be if a plastic pot was removed before planting.
When planting pot and all, care must be exercised to ensure that the pot does not confine root growth or prevent the plant from receiving adequate moisture. Western recommends that the rim and bottom be removed and sides of the pot split, allowing physical contact with the plant’s roots and the media inside with the field soil the pot is planted in. By doing so, the roots are not constrained by the pot and can access moisture from the soil. In very dry climates such as the Southwest U.S., universities like Colorado State and Utah State recommend completely removing fiber pots to prevent wicking of moisture.
Herbaceous plants, like annual bedding plants, normally have fibrous root systems that are not aggressive enough to grow through the walls of our standard containers. Planting pot and all is not recommended for these types of short-lived plants due to the potential of constricting root growth and the container not breaking down fast enough. The exception would be our thin wall paper pots. While the roots of tomatoes and most vegetables will grow through the lightweight container’s relative thin sidewalls, some growers, recommend the bottom half of the pot be “gingerly” peeled off before inserting the plant into the planting hole. To learn more see Pot 'n All video.
THIRD PARTY CERTIFICATION
Our success in paper recycling reflects a commitment to conserve natural resources and recognition that recovered paper is an important raw material in producing innovative molded fiber products. Our use of recovered paper keeps it out of landfills and ensures we get the maximum value out of wood fiber.
EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines
Recycling is more than just dropping off your cans, bottles, and newspapers at the curb or at a local collection facility. Diverting recyclables from the waste stream is only the first of three steps in the recycling process. The second step occurs when companies use these recyclables to manufacture new products. The third step comes when consumers purchase products made from recovered materials.
Buying recycled products results in many environmental benefits. It supports local recycling programs by creating markets for the collected materials that are processed and used to manufacture new products. This creates jobs and helps strengthen the economy; conserves natural resources; saves energy; and reduces solid waste, air and water pollutants, and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
A pre-consumer recycled material is defined as that material “diverted from the waste stream during or from the manufacturing process and used as feedstock in the manufacture of new products. Excluded is re-utilization of materials such as rework, regrind, or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it.” (Source ISO 14021)
A post-consumer recycled material is that material generated by households or by commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product that can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of materials from the distribution chain. (Source: ISO 14021)
Recycling Carbon Benefits over Disposal
One of the key benefits of paper recycling is that there are carbon savings available from simply diverting paper products from alternative disposal routes such as landfill and incineration. Paper is biodegradable and when landfilled creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, which has been recognized as contributing to climate change. Paper is also a carbon-based product and when incinerated releases carbon dioxide, again recognized as contributing to climate change. However, paper is a readily recyclable product, and through recycling the carbon is retained in the product longer and contributes to reducing the primary fiber requirements in the industry. This allows forests to be managed over longer periods and contributes very significantly to the sustainability of the overall paper industry.
U.S. LACEY ACT
As part of its dedication to principles of responsible manufacturing, Western Pulp Products has incorporated Lacey Act compliance efforts into the sourcing and sale of all of its products and product lines.
The Lacey Act is a conservation law first passed in 1900. It has been amended by Congress several times, most recently in 2008. The 2008 Lacey Act amendments were aimed at preventing plant and wood products that have been illegally taken or harvested anywhere in the world from entering the commerce stream in the United States.
The 2008 amendments to the Lacey Act require all importers of plant and wood products to file declarations with the Department of Agriculture designating the nature and source of the imported product. Because Western Pulp Products does not directly import any plant or wood products into the United States, Western Pulp Products is not subject to the Lacey Act’s declaration requirements.
The 2008 amendments also prohibit the import, export, transport, sale, receipt, acquisition or purchase of any plant or wood product taken or harvested in violation of any domestic or foreign law. Civil and criminal penalties apply to violations of the Lacey Act done “knowingly” and to violations that could have been prevented in the exercise of “due care.”
Although Western Pulp’s product line is made from pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled waste paper, Western Pulp is committed to meeting the Lacey Act’s objectives of preventing illegally sourced wood products from being trafficked in the United States.
Western Pulp has not and will not knowingly transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any wood product that has been illegally taken or harvested. Additionally, Western Pulp has implemented a Lacey Act “Due Care Program” to continually monitor its fiber supply in an effort to identify and sequester any wood products that fall under the prohibitions of the Lacey Act.
TOXICS IN PACKAGING
Western supports the proper recycling, recovery and handling of waste associated with packaging. Western designs its molded fiber packaging components to reduce environmental impact and complies with laws designed to reduce toxics in packaging.
In addition to its certification of compliance with those laws, Western’s testing shows that its packaging is substantially below the 100 ppm threshold for aggregate metals concentrations.
Western also requires its suppliers of recycled feedstock to certify compliance with toxics in packaging laws. Western’s compliance certificate addresses the following:
THE MODEL TOXICS IN PACKAGING LEGISLATION
The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH) was formed in 1992 to promote the Model Toxics in Packaging Legislation. This model legislation was developed to reduce the amount of heavy metals in packaging and packaging components that are sold or distributed throughout the United States. Specifically, the law prohibits manufacturers from intentionally introducing mercury, lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium to packaging products.
Since packaging comprises approximately one-third of the waste stream, the goal is to reduce the amount of heavy metals entering municipal solid waste streams. The law allows manufacturers of packaging materials to use recycled feedstock as long as the incidental introduction of the four heavy metals totals less than 100 parts per million in aggregate. Manufacturers must certify that they meet the requirements of the law.
CALIFORNIA TOXICS IN PACKAGING PREVENTION ACT
California enacted its Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act in 2006 and it mirrors the requirements in CONEG’s Model Toxics in Packaging legislation. The California law initially had exemptions to allow manufacturers to phase in the prohibition on metals, but most of the exemptions have now expired. The California law also requires the same certification as the Model Toxics in Packaging law.
EUROPEAN UNION’S DIRECTIVE ON PACKAGING AND PACKAGING WASTE (94/62/EC OF 20 DECEMBER 1994, AS AMENDED BY 2004/12/EC) AND THE CEN PACKAGING STANDARDS (2005/C 44/13) pertaining to heavy metals content requirements. — Commonly known as the Essential Requirements, the European Union passed a Directive that guides the design of packaging to minimize Environmental damage. The directive is about Minimizing the Amount of packaging used, avoiding use of Hazardous Materials in packaging, and making packaging Reusable, Biodegradable, or Recyclable where possible.
Certificates of Compliance
Manufacturers and suppliers of packaging and packaging components are required to furnish a certificate of compliance to customers upon request. This applies only to companies who actually put their products in the package and does not apply to the retailer or the individual consumer. The public and state also have access to these certificates.