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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ambercycle is a company that converts end-of-life textile waste into new polyester yarns that can be used to make garments.
Most of the manufacturers use polyester for the clothing, which is approximately 40 million tons per annum, out of which only 5% gets recycled or reused in fashion. With its approach, ambercycle aims to revolutionize the concept of recycling to include environmentally friendly and sustainable elements into the existing approach.
It converts end-of-life clothing into polyester pellets which would otherwise have been made from oil. Then the regenerated pallets are used to create new clothing the same way pellet extracted from oil is used. It uses engineered enzymes to separate polyester with high selectivity from the blended textile waste materials. The separated polyester is then spun into virgin quality fiber. Any kind of waste that contains polyester can be used in the process eg: textile, carpets, bottles, industrial materials, etc.
How does it work:
The waste clothes are collected.
The waste is turned into polyester pellets.
The pellets are turned into yarn
Clothes are manufactured from the yarn.
The company is currently in the pilot stage of its technology, in Los Angeles. The unit can processes approximately 220 pounds of clothing scrapes every day from local businesses.
The necessary types of equipment can fit into a shipping container that can be dispatched to any location and can be integrated into the existing supply chain. The box can either use the solar panel is placed on its top for power or can use energy from the incineration of leftover materials. Currently, it is only handling textiles but aims to cover plastic packaging, carpets, and other materials in the future.
This can benefit the fashion, apparel, recycling, and other industries to recycle their waste.