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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The Big Plastic Pledge is a movement that unites athletes and the sporting communities around the globe to help tackle the issue of plastic pollution.
The ocean provides 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and regulates climate change. Plastic contamination has been a major contributor to the destruction of ocean life. Therefore, the movement harnesses the power and reaches of sports to create a tidal wave of change at a global level.
Athletes have the power to educate and engage their fans around important causes. They can work with brands through sponsorship and can influence the changes and support event organizers to eliminate the single-use plastics in the first phase of the campaign. With more reach and engagement, the movement can create more awareness and put more pressure on larger corporations, governments, and industries to change plastic waste left.
The campaign also wants to work with organizations, individuals, and brands working on the same field to help them achieve their goals and inspire other organizations. It encourages the athletes to sign pledges and share it with their fans and brands they work with, organizations and individuals to sign the pledge, unite with the campaign, and spread the word.
The campaign has been supported by the International Olympic Committee and Clean Seas. It has recently partnered with the Tour of Cambridgeshire (ToC) cycling festival in the UK. Individuals, athletes, and organizations can join the campaign, pledge, and partner through the website.
Big Plastic Pledge believes that with one person changing their habits, individually signaling to brands and policymakers their voice, the ripple effect can be huge. It can enable people to be a part of a more significant environmental change through their small actions.
Hannah has competed in two Olympic Games - London and Rio winning silver and then gold in Rio. She is a professional sailor and also loves the academic world. She holds a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bristol.