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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Founded in 2015, 3PLW is an R&D company backed by Hutchison-Kinrot. 3PLW commercializes a proprietary bioprocess for the production of 100% bioplastic using recycled organic waste as feed stock, giving it a competitive edge over other bioplastic producers who have to purchase crops as their feed stock. This way the company manages to cut production costs.
3PLW's process produces lactic acid from organic waste to make valuable commodities. The novel technology generates five times more revenue from municipal and industrial food waste, compared to bio-gas production, with superior carbon savings and significant side product returns.
The 3PLW's proprietary waste to biochemicals production process is based on the core principles of Anaerobic Digestion (AD). It entails hydrolysis of complex organic waste sources, and subsequent anaerobic fermentation. The novel bio-process reduces AD residence times to less than 48 hours allowing greater productivity with a smaller facility footprint.
3PLW provides services that apply its process to waste from various industries. It helps to determine the techno-economic feasibility of producing bioplastics from waste streams. Then they utilize cutting-edge molecular tools in their molecular biology and fermentation laboratories to produce unique microorganisms that can extract maximum value from a specific waste stream based on its composition.
They have reduced landfill waste, produced biodegradable bioplastic and by providing an alternate to fossil fuel based plastic have decreased Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.