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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Sustainable backpack label QWSTION has developed Bananatex®, a line of technical fabric manufactured from organically grown Abaca banana plant fibres.
QWSTION has been in pursuit of producing bags made from sustainable fabric since its inception. Previously, the brand has developed fabric from organically grown cotton.
In 2015, upon discovery of the Abaca Banana plant, QWSTION embarked on three years of research to establish Bananatex®. The Abaca is sturdy and does not require pesticides or excess water for growth. The fibres for Bananatex® are extracted from Abaca banana plants grown in a permaculture gardens in the Philippines and this allows the ongoing contributions to reforestation and also provides a steady income to the farmers.
The fibres are extracted from the stalks of the Abaca plant and spun into yarn at a Taiwanese paper mill. Once the fabric has been woven, it is coated with a layer of beeswax for smoothening. The resultant fabric is then manufactured into Bananatex® products. With the fabric being naturally sourced, the resultant products are fully biodegradable, making the life-cycle of the product completely sustainable. The waterproof-ness comes from the beeswax coating.
Currently, the Bananatex® line offers the Hip Pouch and the Roll Pack. Both are designed to be fully biodegradable. The buckles and zippers are recyclable. Like all its products, QWSTION aims to make Bananatex® versatile and functional. The bags are thus designed with adjustable volume and varied carrying options. Bananatex® has been developed as an open-source project in an effort to encourage companies to adopt the sustainable process.
The line was debuted at the Milan Design Week 2019. The products are now available for purchase on the official QWSTION website.