Green FAQs

Quality Assurance

Is the Paper Mate® Biodegradable* pen or pencil as durable as regular plastic pens?

Yes, all of our Biodegradable* products meet the same quality standards we’ve set for our other pens.


How durable is the packaging? Is the packaging recyclable?

Packaging is tested under ISTA standard – a global standard that confirms high quality packaging throughout the transportation process. The ISTA standard encompasses a drop test, vibration test and environment test. Yes, the packaging is 100% recyclable.


Will these pens biodegrade in my warehouse due to temperature and humidity, or weaken on the shelf over time?

NO – the Paper Mate® Biodegradable* pen is tough, durable, and shelf stable. As long as it is not exposed to a microbial environment such as soil or compost, it has the same expected performance as traditional plastic pens.


Can these products biodegrade during normal use? What happens if my hand sweats or I lick the pen?
(Pens are not meant for chewing or licking)

Our biodegradable* pens are made out of Mirel™ to be heat and moisture resistant, so they’re as durable and safe in your hand or on your desk as other pen products. They biodegrade only when buried in soil or home compost.


Mirel Material

What are the differences between Mirel and other bioplastics?

By definition, a "bioplastic" is a material that is biobased, biodegradable or both. Some bioplastics, such as PLA and Ecoflex, exhibit limited biodegradability. These are not biodegradable in ambient temperatures, and thus require high heat and moisture of an industrial composting facility. Mirel™ is both biobased, [as noted in the Renewable Resource explanation above], and biodegradable in a wide range of ambient temperature environments including natural soil and water environments, and in home composting systems.

Mirel™ is a PHA polymer that is produced directly in the microorganism. Polymers are found in nature in a wide range of organisms, such as microbes, plants, and animals. Polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHAs, also naturally occur within certain organisms, including microbes. These microbes use PHA to store energy, consuming it for food when needed. It is this characteristic that gives Mirel™ its biodegradability in ambient temperature environments including natural soil and water environments, and in home composting systems.


How does the increase in corn use for ethanol affect the food supply?

According to Telles, the manufacturer of the Mirel bioplastic used by Sanford in the Paper Mate® products at issue here, the primary raw material for Mirel bioplastic is corn sugar (dextrose) derived from a corn wet milling process. The dextrose is derived from U.S. field corn, an abundant renewable agricultural resource.



How do I know these products will biodegrade in my backyard or home compost?

Paper Mate® Biodegradable* products have been tested according to internationally recognized standards ISO 17556 and ISO 20200. Tests confirmed that, under normal temperature conditions found in soil/home compost, the product’s biodegradable components biograde in about a year.


Why can’t I just bury the whole pen?

Unfortunately, some parts, such as the grip and refill, can’t be made biodegradable yet. These parts should be properly disposed in the trash. See packaging for disassembly details.


Are there any third party certifications for these products?

A third party certification from Vincotte is pending from "OK Biodegradable SOIL" mark. Certification is for the Biodegradable components only.


Is bioplastic the same as biodegradable?

No. Products made from bioplastic are not biodegradable unless they say specifically so.

What is the difference between biodegradable and renewable, recycled and recyclable?

Paper Mate® Biodegradable* products are made from renewable materials that can biodegrade. Paper Mate® Write Bros. Recycled®, Flex Grip Ultra® Recycled, Earth Write® and Liquid Paper® DryLine® Grip Recycled are made from recycled materials.

- Biodegradable* materials return to nature

- Renewable materials are derived from replenishable resources

- Recycled materials are made from discarded items or supplies

- Recyclable materials can be reused instead of discarded

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*Majority of components biodegrade in soil or home compost in about a year. See disassembly instructions on package or click here