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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Bigbelly, a Massachusetts, US-based company, is a smart waste management, smart city, and Internet of Things (IoT) industry leader.
The company was founded in 2003 with the goal of transforming one of the least efficient and resource-intensive industries: waste collection. Cities were either collecting too often and wasting fuel and labor while emitting excess CO2, or, they were not able to keep up with the demands and overflowing trash cans that created litter, health, and safety issues.
The company has evolved to offer a unique and complete solution by leveraging renewable solar energy and information technology. Bigbelly is recognized as a C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group best practice. Industry knowledge and longevity in the market provides them with strong insights backed by extensive data, analytics, and customer successes.
Bigbelly claims to be the world leader of smart waste and recycling solutions for public spaces and can be found in all 50 United States and in over 50 countries. Cities, campuses, and facilities experience up to 80% collection reduction in addition to cleanliness, operational, economic, and environmental benefits by deploying Bigbelly’s solution.
Customers install a customized fleet of Bigbelly’s smart, connected, sensor-equipped waste stations. Each unit keeps waste contained and communicates its real-time fullness status to collection crews to enable increased productivity. It uses cloud-based technology and solar-power to monitor waste levels, compact waste (5-10x more than traditional bin), and communicate status. Bigbelly’s integrated solution provides an intelligent fleet – 100% smart with increased capacity where needed most. This streamlines waste management operations, increases productivity, and keeps areas clean and green. Bigbelly saves time, resources, and CO2 emissions due to less transport being used unnecessarily.
Bigbelly is regularly receiving press attention due to its rapidly expanding deployments in communities around the world. Smarter and intelligent public space and recycling technology is helping make waste management more sustainable. Stakeholders leverage system data to track operational patterns and conduct analyses to optimize collection routines, measure and benchmark operations, and realize location-based waste patterns.