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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Creating products made of agricultural residues,BIO-LUTIONS is a Hamburg-based company with operations in Ramanagara, near Bengaluru. The company buys agricultural waste from farmers and makes biodegradable packaging and tableware from it. The patented technology converts agro-waste into self-binding fibres by simply churning them with water in huge machines. The end products are sustainable packaging and tableware that takes only three months to biodegrade.
Energy-intense process of cellulose extraction or bleaching needs excessive use of chemicals and water in the production processes, both common to cellulose based paper and bio-plastic production. BIO-LUTIONS' raw materials do not have to go through this process making the solutions more natural.
BIO-LUTIONS' technology makes it possible to use even the shortest fibres from most agricultural residues found worldwide. Their goal is to create a decentralized production network with local factories and regionalized distribution. This will go hand in hand with localized raw material collection and processing. By decentralizing the production, BIO-LUTIONS can meet local demand, create local jobs while also limiting CO2 emissions and transportation costs thanks to simplified logistics. The local production makes their customers independent from the stock market petroleum & cellulose prices, third party suppliers and international transport.
BIO-LUTIONS products are designed to be part of a circular economy. They can decompose under normal conditions, be used for Biogas production, be recycled or burned with nearly CO2 neutral carbon footprint.
BIO-LUTIONS undergoes a five step process:
Harvest & Separation: Their raw materials are naturally occurring when harvesting crops. The crops are separated from the excess organic materials.
Collection & Conservation: Their NGO partner VIKASANA collects the raw materials from small hold farmers in the region. These materials are cleaned and conserved before delivery.
Processing: Conversion of agricultural residues into self-binding fibers. Moulding and hot-pressing of raw materials into disposable tableware and packaging.
Delivery: The final product is delivered to local clients.
Biogas/Energy Composting or Recycling: After use, the products can either be efficiently burned, returned to the natural cycle or recycled.
BIO-LUTIONS has won multiple awards including the German Packaging Award, 2017 and the ELEVATE Benagluru, 2017. They recently raised €8.3 million, with Delivery Hero and the KfW subsidiary DEG as key investors.
Eduardo holds a master degree in Architecture from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Industrial Design. After several years of research Eduardo started BIO-LUTIONS as a passion project because of his eagerness to fight the excessive use of plastic. Before this he founded upgrading GmbH, a design agency based in Hamburg with now over 12 years of experience in P.O.S. marketing solutions.
Celine holds a Master's degree in International Business and Sustainability from University of Hamburg. She has previously worked with Knapp and also as a Strategic Planner.