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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All Questions (82)
Circular Business Development
PostedApr 23, 2019
Hi all, I’m looking for companies and/or organisations that can play a role in the recycling of derelict fishing gear (DFR). Within the Netherlands and Belgium through a project called Fishing for Litter (website in...read more→
I’m looking for companies and/or organisations that can play a role in the recycling of derelict fishing gear (DFR). Within the Netherlands and Belgium through a project called Fishing for Litter (website in Dutch) around 20 kubic meters of DFR is collected per week. In the below report more information can be found on tests done previously. But which companies and/or organisations are willing to jump into this problem and make it a solution?
Recycling of Nylon 6 (PA6) of fishing nets is being done frequently turning it into picknick tables or clothes, but what about the other materials within these ocean waste streams, like PE, PET etc?
All ideas are welcome!
For more info read this report - executive summary
Recycling options for derelict fishing gear - ex. summary 2
Recycling options for delelict fishing gear - full report showless
Circular Business Development
RepliedMay 17, 2019
Hee Nicole, I have send you an email. Did you receive it?
Circular Business Development
PostedApr 01, 2019
Hi all, I’m searching for alternative materials to use in the production of teabags, the pyramid shaped version, for biological and fair trade teas. Favorably the material is bio-degradable and industrial compostable...read more→
I’m searching for alternative materials to use in the production of teabags, the pyramid shaped version, for biological and fair trade teas. Favorably the material is bio-degradable and industrial compostable and non GMO. Of course food approval is necessary and won’t have an adverse affect on the tea making process, smell or taste. The material needs to remain stable for at least 2 years on the shelf and not degrade in moist environments, since the packaging takes place in countries with moist environments (Malaysia, Sri Lanka). Furthermore the material preferably is suitable for the current packaging machines. However a first scope of potential materials would be nice. Production volumes range between 20.000 to 50.000 ton annually and is growing. Anyone any suggestions? Thanks! showless
Has anyone done an LCA of stone or mineral paper? I see claims of photo-degradability but would love to know more. Anyone have any experience with this material?
RepliedMay 06, 2019
I am a leading plastic materials expert. You are being given incorrect advice. Calcium carbonate-filled PE can be recycled multiple times with no loss in properties. Check phantomplastlcs.com 2 if you want hard data on plastics and the environment rather than false rumors.
PostedMar 02, 2019
It is more environmentally friendly (less resources, energy) to create a plastic bag versus a paper bag. However, we really only have infrastructure in place to capture and recycle paper bags. What then is the proper...read more→
It is more environmentally friendly (less resources, energy) to create a plastic bag versus a paper bag. However, we really only have infrastructure in place to capture and recycle paper bags. What then is the proper bag to use? showless
RepliedMay 30, 2019
perhaps relating to the topic’s original question: depending on geographical location, there are available systems to collect and recycle foil (back to foils)
PostedMar 01, 2019
United by Blue and Sole have collaborated to create what they are calling the most eco-friendly shoe in the world. It boasts recycled cork soles, fibers made from discarded buffalo fibers, and in soles made from algae...read more→
United by Blue and Sole have collaborated to create what they are calling the most eco-friendly shoe in the world.
It boasts recycled cork soles, fibers made from discarded buffalo fibers, and in soles made from algae pollution. I don’t think I have ever heard of a more responsibly made shoe!
What do you think? Will you be picking up a pair of these? Do you think their efforts were worth while? And the over arching question, are innovations like this the answer to solving our world’s most pressing environmental issues?
Here are the shoes we’re discussing
RepliedOct 10, 2019
I like the idea behind these shoes a lot and how everything that is used in them is either recycled or organic. They look nice and comfortable. Might have to check out a pair of my own.
PostedMar 01, 2019
Recently there has been a flurry of articles, outlining to what extend recycling in the US is broken, as a result of China’s ban in plastic waste imports. Examples: NYTimes:...read more→
Recently there has been a flurry of articles, outlining to what extend recycling in the US is broken, as a result of China’s ban in plastic waste imports.
NYTimes: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/16/business/local-recycling-costs.html 3
The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/03/china-has-stopped-accepting-our-trash/584131/ 1
The problem with these articles is that they do not outline any SOLUTIONS at all and only paint a picture of doom. This has left a lot of people in the waste industry frustrated.
In this thread, we’d like to capture comments, suggestions and articles on SOLUTIONS. Please contribute, even if you do not work in the US. showless
RepliedNov 01, 2019
Personal anecdote related to this subject: I’ve just put in a couple of hours of web search and phone calls to understand specifically what to put and not to put into my blue recycling waste bin in Fulton County. After glass bottles and beverage aluminum cans it gets quite ambiguous and confusing very quickly. Maybe it’s just me. But if I’m like the average person, and Fulton is like the average county, there appears to be a large upside opportunity in providing homes with much clearer instructions. Which would lead to a more valuable and less contaminated mix of blue bin contents. Which could bring by significant productivity gains along the recycling value chain, I suppose.
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