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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Alucha Recycling Technologies develops technological solutions that turn waste into a natural resource. Their focus is on wastes that are currently being landfilled or incinerated.
With their technology, they are able to separate the organic from the inorganic matter, so recovering usable resources, typically oil and metals or minerals. Using their extensive knowledge of pyrolysis processes, they can offer complete projects for their clients, typically involving a leading Dutch engineering firm they work with, in order to offer assured and speedy delivery of projects.
They provide local solutions that turn waste into a natural resource, so saving precious resources, logistic costs CO2 emissions. The payback times for their clients are typically 2-4 years.
In the lab they experiment with other notoriously difficult materials. Tests have been done and experience obtained with materials as diverse as rice husk, digestate, pill strips, sludge, toothpaste tubes, olive stones, artificial grasses and composite materials.
Prior to their current focus on the development of a solution for paper sludge, for paper multinational Stora Enso they built an installation that allows the full recycling of drink carton laminates.
With their solution these materials can be re-used: plastics are separated from the aluminum layers and recycled back into oil and aluminum. As the world’s first installation of its kind, it has made Alucha the reference company in pyrolysis systems, with over 15,000 hours of operational experience. And while their focus has currently shifted, they still offer this industrially proven solution to interested clients.
With its broad knowledge of industrial pyrolysis, Alucha is frequently involved in recycling and efficiency projects. As such, they have been the pyrolysis partner in the EU FP7 “REFFIBRE” project, which developed tools to improve efficiency in the European Paper Industry. In this project they worked with VTT of Finland, PTS and Darmstadt University of Germany. Currently they work in another European innovation project, focused on production of high quality biofuels, with KTH and Sverea of Sweden, BIOS (Austria), and Twente University & OPRA (Netherlands).