Toothbrushes are made up of plastic handles and plastic takes a long time to break down in a landfill. Experts recommend that toothbrushes be thrown away every three to four months, which makes for a lot of plastic ending up in landfills. Research reports claim that about 450 million toothbrushes end up in landfills every year in the U.S. Enter World Centric’s compostable toothbrushes, whose handles are made from 100 percent plant materials. The bristles are not compostable, but break off at the head so the handle can be composted. The travel case that the toothbrush comes in can also be composted.
The toothbrush and travel case, which cost $4.55, made from Ingeo, a plant-based plastic made by Nature Works LLC. The bristles are nylon, but World Centric is looking for a compostable replacement. The company recommends that the toothbrush handle and travel case be composted in a commercial composting facility. If a commercial composting facility does not exist in a consumer’s area or does not do pick-ups, then the toothbrush handles and travel cases can be sent to World Centric for composting. If the toothbrushes and travel cases end up in landfills they will not break down as landfills are designed to avoid degradation.
Founded in 2004, World Centric began selling Fair Trade and compostable products in 2005, and that same year registered as a taxable California non-profit corporation. In 2009, World Centric switched from being a taxable non-profit to a for-profit social enterprise because the sale of compostable products had become its main activity.
Since World Centric’s products are made from plant materials, they require less energy to manufacture. For example, the company’s compostable utensils are made using half the energy needed to make a typical plastic utensil. Two compostable utensils can be made for the same energy it takes to make a polystyrene utensil. Energy costs are also cut in half.
World Centric also makes plates and bowls from compostable wheat-straw. Three wheat-straw plates or bowls can be made with the same amount of energy it takes to make one foam plate, which means 66 percent less energy is used. As World Centric’s website points out, “Using less energy means producing less greenhouse gas and emitting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
World Centric is a company that gives back. It donates 25 percent of its annual profits to community projects around the world. In the future, the company hopes to give 100 percent of its net profits. In addition to giving a quarter of its profits to worthwhile causes, World Centric sells its compostable foodservice product lines to schools and other nonprofits at a discount.
Photo: World Centric