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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The awards organized by The Plastics Industry Association are designed to recognize the companies that are pushing the companies of innovation—driving environmental advantages in product design, sustainable materials, and end-of-life recovery.
Awards will be given in three categories:
Design: for Recycling, for anti-liter, and innovation in equipment allowing for new product design
Innovation in or Use of Bioplastics
Innovation in or Use of Recycled Content
Additives for Upcycling
End of Life:
Innovation in Recycling
Innovation in Recycling or Composting Equipment
Innovation submission from: October 7 - December 27,2019
Winners selection in each category: January 2020
Winners announced: February 2020. Winners are strongly encouraged to attend the 2020 Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit to receive their awards in-person.
In addition to the three defined award categories, two additional awards will be announced during the ceremony at Re|focus:
The Leadership Innovation Award: The winner of this award will be determined by the judging panel.
The People's Choice Award: Finalists for the Sustainability Innovation Awards qualify to be a part of the People's Choice Award contest. All proposals will be shared with registered attendees on the Summit's event app and the nominee with the most votes will win a special trophy during the ceremony.
The winners of each category awards will be determined by a panel of six judges, made up of members of PLASTICS. Each submission will be graded on the following criteria:
Innovation: How novel is the idea being proposed?
Environmental Impact: What is the environmental benefit? If this can be quantified (CO2 savings, water reduction, energy reduction, etc.), this should be included in the submission.
Market Impact: How scalable is this innovation? What is the potential market impact if it were to reach commercialization?
To nominate an innovation to be considered for the 2020 Re|focus Sustainability Innovation Awards, please click HERE.