The term "biodegradable" has been used over the past few years, to describe plastics or packaging that could potentially be metabolized by microorganisms in nature, with complete breakdown to CO2/Methane, water and biomass. However, there is significant confusion and controversy surrounding biodegradable plastics since many suppliers have used the term to loosely describe their material/packaging without specifying the conditions under which the material would degrade in nature. For instance, some plastics (like PLA) will only degrade under industrial composting conditions, while some others (like PHA) can break down under a wider range of conditions and environments (industrial, backyard, marine). Given this widespread confusion and the misuse of the "biodegradable" term, many global government and industry organizations have issued guidelines to restrict or eliminate the unqualified use of biodegradable as a descriptor of plastics or packaging. These include the European Commission guidelines (European Plastics Strategy) and the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides in the US.
In line with such guidelines, Ubuntoo's recommends that companies providing biodegradable materials, products or packaging:
1.Avoid unqualified use of the term "biodegradable" to describe their products
2.Any claim of biodegradability should be accompanied by a description of specific conditions and environments under which the material or product will undergo degradation in nature
3.It is strongly recommended that companies provide globally accepted certifications or testing for various biodegradability claims (such as the BPA certification for industrial composting)
Further in line with the position articulated by the European Commission as well as major CPG companies, Ubuntoo recommends that "biodegradable" plastics should not be considered a solution for littering (or worse a license to litter). Appropriate collection and end-of-life solutions (such as industrial composting or home composting) need to be put into place to avoid biodegradable plastics ending up as litter in the environment.
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Packaging plays a big part in the food experience for people in North America. Products are packaged in many formats to protect food and extend shelf life. Various packaging formats make it easier for food companies and retailers to ship and organize products safely and efficiently. Alternatively, packaging makes it easier for consumers to purchase the amount of food that is right for their needs.Yet packaging consistently is under attack for being wasteful and bad for the environment. There are no easy solutions, but it is important to make packaging solutions available that reduce food waste and packaging waste.For this webinar, PAC NEXT US & PAC FOOD have brought together three speakers - who are also co-chairs of the PAC FOOD WASTE initiative:Martin Gooch will share the results from the recent VCMI report in partnership with Second Harvest which indicates that 58% of food produced in Canada is wasted. Ian Ferguson will weigh in on the value of packaging and highlight case studies where packaging helps to reduce food waste. Claire Sand will share recent research that pairs a monetary value with packaging reducing food waste and highlight the value of LCA’s and closing the loop on the need to pay equal attention to reducing packaging.This webminar will be moderated by Alan Blake, Director of PAC NEXT US & PAC FOOD.