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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Following five years of extensive technology development and piloting, UPM is currently evaluating the potential of a new-to-the-world biorefinery in Germany that would convert hardwood from sustainably managed forests into renewable glycols and lignin.
Global megatrends and resource scarcity call for a new set of solutions. UPM is focusing on developing renewable, responsible and recyclable solutions to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil-based materials.
UPM high-quality glycols, biobased MEG and MPG, would be ready to be converted into various industrial products and everyday consumer goods and will offer brand owners and material producers exciting new opportunities for improving their environmental performance.
MEG is a key raw material for polyesters and antifreeze formulations, used e.g. in bottles, packaging, textiles and deicing fluids. MPG is a versatile ingredient for polyester resins and industrial liquids, used e.g. in composites, antifreeze and detergents.
In 2018, UPM has been listed as the forest and paper industry leader in the Dow Jones European and World Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for the sixth time and recognized by the United Nations as one of 34 Global Compact LEAD companies demonstrating world-class commitment to corporate sustainability. UPM has also been ranked on the 23rd place in the list of 100 most sustainable corporations by the Corporate Knights a recognized global leader on the CDP Forest A List.
The group employs around 19,100 people worldwide and its annual sales are approximately EUR 10.5 billion with shares listed on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.