Local Business Spotlight: How World Centric Helps Make Foodservice Sustainable
For World Centric, finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of the foodservice industry is an incredibly important mission.
And, as a certified B-Corp and philanthropist business operating at SOMO Village, the organization is making a real difference in the world.
We spoke with Janae Lloyd, Director of Impact at World Centric, to learn more.
Can you explain what exactly World Centric does?
World Centric aims to reduce the environmental impact of the foodservice industry by creating certified compostable products made from renewable plant-based materials.
We have innovated over 370 foodservice and retail products across tableware, cutlery, and food packaging to help replace plastic and polystyrene packaging and reduce environmental impact.
Our products are made from rapidly renewable agricultural byproducts like sugarcane and bamboo. By utilizing leftover plant materials (that would otherwise be incinerated), we are able to reuse valuable renewable resources to create packaging that’s able to break down in 2 to 4 months in a commercial composting environment.
In addition to providing high-quality, plant-based products for the foodservice industry, we’re also a mission-driven B Corp and California Benefit Corporation. We donate 25% of our profits each year to communities at the intersection of extreme poverty and climate change.
What was the “fist-on-table” moment that led to your company’s founding? What’s its reason for being?
World Centric was founded by Aseem Das in 2004 as a nonprofit organization to elevate awareness of global social and environmental issues. He hosted films and speakers to inspire simple living and collective action for a better world. As income generation for the organization, Aseem began selling compostable products in 2005. That really took off.
In 2009, World Centric transitioned from a nonprofit to a for-profit social enterprise, and since then, we have always given at least 25% of our profits to support the same causes Aseem advocated for as a nonprofit.
Today, we continue to uphold the same mission and values to be of service to people and the planet in all that we do. We carry this in our business operations, which are far from business-as-usual, to address sustainability in our products, philanthropy, and practices.
Through our giving program, we’ve funded 260 projects globally and donated over $9 million, all from selling plant-based products that are replacing single-use plastics in the foodservice industry.
What makes your company’s mission such an important one?
In the foodservice industry, food and packaging waste account for 45% of all materials that end up in U.S. landfills each year.
Plastic utensils are one of the most common items found in our oceans.
Traditional food packaging is typically made from petroleum plastics and expanded polystyrene (or Styrofoam®). It’s estimated that only 5% of all plastic ever created has actually been recycled.
These materials contribute to our society’s over-extraction of the Earth’s natural resources in order to be created (i.e. drilling petroleum for plastic production) and contribute to the Earth’s mounting waste.
These environmental issues are inextricably linked with social issues.
Environmentally, the planet’s ecological systems are being irreparably destroyed due to human activities. Socially, the increase in inequalities among people throughout the world is more apparent than ever before.
Half of the world’s population—more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
Climate change undoubtedly exacerbates this cycle of poverty, especially in communities where resources aren’t available to mitigate the effects of this environmental degradation.
Although climate change disproportionately impacts systematically marginalized and underserved communities worldwide, less than 2% of all charitable contributions in the USA are directed to climate mitigation organizations and even less to BIPOC-centered community groups.
We believe it’s more important now than ever to catalyze funding for frontline communities as a critical solution to both extreme poverty and the climate crisis.
If World Centric could inspire people to do one thing, what would it be?
- To live simply. Calculate your ecological footprint and take steps to decrease your impact on the planet.
- Support our amazing non-profit partners. World Centric can vouch for the incredible impact of all these organizations.
Are there any resources, books, podcasts, or ideas you’d recommend to people who are aligned with your World Centric’s cause?
Absolutely. Check out:
- Nothing Wasted! Podcast
- How to Save a Planet Podcast and their calls to action
- The Life You Can Save Book
- Intersectional Environmentalist resources
Why did you choose to operate your business at SOMO Village?
Social and environmental sustainability are at the heart of what we do and are values we share with SOMO.
SOMO is not only a great fit because of the sustainable design of the campus but also because of the intention to create a community focused on well-being and engagement.
If you could fast-forward 10 years down the road, what impact do you hope your company will have made on the world by then and why?
Humanity has a long way to go in reducing waste and creating more resilient systems for living on the planet.
Each year we hope to be replacing more and more traditional plastic packaging with sustainable, plant-based materials, innovating new materials to disrupt the fossil fuel industry, and expanding our giving program to support more pathways out of poverty for the world’s most vulnerable communities.
To learn more about World Centric, visit them online.
And if you want to operate your business in a community where you’re surrounded by innovative and sustainable organizations, then we invite you to take a tour of SOMO Cowork or get in touch with us today to learn more about the professional facilities available within the community.