What’s the Difference between Molded Fiber and Molded Pulp?
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
It’s not all that long ago that polystyrene was the takeout container of choice for most restaurants. Often mislabeled as styrofoam, polystyrene waste has been disastrous to the environment, and the petroleum-based plastic containers that followed haven’t been any better. Both materials are cluttering our landfills and wreaking havoc across various ecosystems through improper disposal. Luckily, truly sustainable packaging options are becoming more commonplace. Thanks to streamlined and perfected manufacturing processes by companies like Zume, these environmentally friendly materials are cheaper than their more harmful counterparts. You’ve maybe heard of these materials being referred to as “molded pulp” and “molded fiber,” and you’re wondering which is better. Well, the truth is that both terms often describe the same thing.
The Pulped Materials
One possible origin of the two different names might come from the materials used to make it. Molded fiber was originally made from wood pulp, and has since been replaced by plant materials like bamboo, sorghum, wheat straw, and others.
However, wood pulp is still a fiber, and pulped wheat straw, for instance, is still a pulp. So the names can still be interchanged. Ultimately, it’s up to you what you want to call it. At Zume, we call it molded fiber because it just rolls off our tongue better, but you do you.
What’s in a Name?
While there is no “molded pulp vs. molded fiber,” there is still very much a “molded fiber vs. plastics,” and molded fiber wins that contest every time. Plastic is reliant on petroleum, and molded fiber isn’t. Plastic is non-biodegradable, and molded fiber is biodegradable. Molded fiber can be composted when you’re done with it, while plastic cannot. Molded fiber is cheaper than plastic. You could say that molded fiber absolutely pulps its plastic competitors in every situation.
Where Do We Go from Here?
The way we treat this planet is going to set the stage for how long we’re allowed to stay here. While cutting down on our use of plastics and other non-biodegradable waste and replacing those things with sustainable materials like pulped fiber might seem like a very small step, it is a necessary one. We must make that step along with many others to ensure the survival of our ecosystems and make our life here on Earth a plentiful one.
Zume is proud to be a part of that effort with our molded fiber food packaging and face masks, and we’re excited to see where this journey takes us next.