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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Get answers to your questions on solutions to plastic pollution, food waste and sustainable fashion from our expert community.
All Questions (56)
Global Energy and Sustainability Director
ISS Facilities Services
PostedFeb 26, 2019
I am working with a cafe services company that wants to find a better option for disposable gloves. Currently using nitrile gloves all around the United States, and because of the food waste they mostly end up in the...read more→
I am working with a cafe services company that wants to find a better option for disposable gloves. Currently using nitrile gloves all around the United States, and because of the food waste they mostly end up in the landfill. I am aware of Terracycle’s program, and I just learned that Kimberly Clark has a RightCycle. Does anyone know of compostable options? or reusable alternatives. Or a material that is a better option? showless
Karan Pandey (WTG)
RepliedJun 25, 2020
I'd request you to change the way you use. Buy 2 pairs of washable gloves for every person using it. Workers should use one pair of it on work and on the other day the used one should be washed and non used ones can be used. This will surely save a lot money and millions of pairs of glove waste. Hope this helps!! ✌️
Studio Make Believe
PostedJun 01, 2018
Hello, Does anyone know European manufacturers able to mould a coffee cup in a sustainable material (not an existing coffee cup product)? Any sustainable material or fully reciclable now a days is an option, food...read more→
Hello, Does anyone know European manufacturers able to mould a coffee cup in a sustainable material (not an existing coffee cup product)? Any sustainable material or fully reciclable now a days is an option, food grade stainless steel, rice husks, bamboo fibre, bleached paperboard, etc. The only restriction is that the material must to be BPA free. showless
RepliedSep 01, 2019
Hi Anthony, here are some options in Europe (UK included