With the upsurge in interest of sustainable technology, finding easily compostable products is becoming essential for modern-day living. Locally produced, biodegradable, and energy-efficient are significant qualities consumers prefer, and companies are providing. The sugarcane industry has afforded Florida a rich economy, but the sweetness doesn’t stop there. The Sunshine State is leading the way with eco-friendly replacements to plastic tableware products. Tellus Products LLC is a Belle Glade-based manufacturing company that uses leftover sugarcane fiber to make compostable, sustainable, and chlorine-free plates, bowls, and takeout containers.

The company, Tellus, the Latin word for earth, upholds the motto “From the plants we grow to the products we create, we consider the impact to the Planet in everything we do. Tellus … Plant … Product …Planet.” The sugarcane plant is a rapidly growing crop, offering an abundance of materials to make the tableware. When milled, sugarcane is broken down and separated into water, sugar, molasses, and sugarcane fiber, called bagasse. Tellus’ manufacturing facility uses the bagasse, or plant fiber, and makes it into a “slurry” where it is molded and dried into differently shaped tableware. Matt Hoffman, president of Tellus LLC, says that more than 35,000 plates can be made from just one ton of bagasse, and the products fully compost in soil in about 90 days.

The 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is located just adjacent to the sugarcane farms in central Palm Beach County. With the recent ribbon cutting ceremony on March 27 headed by Governor Rick Scott, Tellus LLC has hired 50 local employees and plans to hire up to 100 at full buildout. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said, “It’s a Florida-grown crop. It’s a Florida-grown technology. And it’s making more Florida-grown jobs.”

This innovative replacement for plastic tableware comes from a union of Florida Crystals Corp., a Central Palm Beach Chamber board member, and Sugarcane Growers Cooperative of Florida, a Central Palm Beach Chamber Trustee and member.

Soon Tellus’ products will be available for consumer purchase, with prices comparable to the higher-end disposable tableware found in stores today.