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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TheAlgramoconcept is to change food accessibility and affordability while reducing the environmental footprint of packaging.
Chilean founder, Jose Manuel Moller, founded Algramo after experiencing the issues surrounding cost of food in poverty-stricken parts of Santiago, Chile. He experienced what he described as 'poverty tax' because food was not widely available outside a few supermarkets or costly small stores. The high cost of packaging meant that poor consumers paid as much as a 50% higher price for products in small sizes.
Algramo has developed 2 systems:
Their initial system was focused exclusively on Santiago's BoP communities. This system reaches 2,000 family owned convenience stores (FONS)-who reach ~325,000 end-customers. This reusable packaging system saves low-resource families about 30% on the cost of life's essentials and virtually eliminates packaging waste. It is based on a mix of vending machine (with limited technology) and simpler exchange system where customers swap used packaging (packaging has a deposit) for new packaging unit that is filled with products. To make sure that everybody benefits, the providers of the food for the vending machines are the local stores around, who then split the profits made by the machine on an equal basis.
They are also pivoting and co-developing their technology to be integrated into the supply chains of global brands-to scale our reusable packaging system, into new markets in Chile and then into the world. Their system provides major environmental and economic benefits.
Their Packaging-as-a-Wallet (PaaW) communicates with their IoT-connected-vending-machines (ICVM) and dispense FMCG products into reusable packaging. Their ICVM are mounted on electric tricycles to provide Uber Eats like home REFILL for FMCG products. They are currently piloting their technology with Unilever and Nestle. Home REFILL eliminates reverse logistics, which means huge economic/environmental savings.
Their elimination of packaging waste and reverse logistic provides major savings. For example, the Unilever detergent that they sell is 30% cheaper than Walmart price. Cost savings and customer reach of their FMCG partners, means that their solution has the potential to easily lock in millions into their convenient lowest cost distribution system.
Algramo is a registered B Corp organization. Not only are users witnessing a significant reduction in terms of cost but the amount of packaging waste and carbon footprint has been dramatically reduced.
Before establishing Algramo in 2012, José Manuel had studied commercial engineering, advanced design and political science. His experience as a student and lack of access to food prompted him to set up Algramo.