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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Design studio Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven has launched Algae Fabrics, a project to develop raw textile material from the algal species Cladophora.
The fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry worldwide. There is almost no circularity in the industry with over 95% textiles being burnt post-use. In addition to this, textile production is expected to grow 3 times by 2050.
Naturally growing algae is an important organism in aquatic ecosystems with a large role in carbon flux. Algae utilize high amounts of carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen and useful biomolecules like cellulose. Of the algae species, Cladophora is rich in cellulose, containing nearly 70% of the polysaccharide. The characteristics of cellulose make it a largely effective raw material in the textile industry, however, it is not always sustainably produced.
By producing cellulosic yarn from Cladophora algae, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven aims to make the product a renewable and sustainable source of raw material for the fashion industry.
The project began in 2015, with a detailed technical roadmap and its relevance to the future of fast fashion developed by creator Tjeerd Veenhoven.
The project was awarded the Global Change Award in 2015 by the H&M Foundation. The project was also awarded a substantial grant by H&M.
Currently, the project is in its final stage in collaboration with AMIBM and ITA research institutes. The first set of yarn launch needs to be confirmed.
Tjeerd won the Global Change Award in 2016 awarded by the H&M Conscious Foundation. His Studio was awarded the 60th position in MKB Innovation's Top 100 in 2013. He was the winner of Green Design Competition 2012.