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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Accredo Packaging, Inc. manufactures and supplies sustainable high added value flexible packaging predominantly for the prepackaged food and consumer products markets in North America. Their new 200,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility has been build to meet LEED silver certification standards, and will be powered by 100% renewable wind power. This is the first manufacturing site of its kind in this industry.
Accredo Offers Sustainable Packaging Product Options, such as:
Recyclable Stand-up Pouch:AccredoFlex® RP™ has the potential to be an industry changer’, moving from co-mingled, multi-material structures (e.g. PET/LDPE) whose end-of-life will be land-fill, to a single-source homogeneous substrate that CAN be recycled and so diverted from land-fill.
Renewable options, using renewably-sourced resin from sugar-cane feedstock (as opposed to hydrocarbon-based feed stock), Accredo has successfully pioneered sustainably produced packaging with a highly renewable content. Third-party certified in accordance with ASTM D6866.
Compostable film technology. Accredo was the first company globally to manufacture a zippered stand-up pouch made from components certified compostable in accordance with ASTM 6400 standards for compostability in industrial composting facilities.
Malcolm Cohn is the director of sustainability for Accredo Packaging, Inc., a company that manufactures and supplies flexible packaging for the pre-packaged foods and consumer product markets in North America. Malcolm joined Accredo Packaging in 2009, bringing over twenty-eight years of experience that encompasses networking, business development, and customer relationship management.