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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Set on taking Australia through a composting revolution, BioPak is creating compostable products and providing a compost waste management system for local residents.
BioPak is a certified B Corp business that produces sustainable products and packaging made from plants, not oil. They mainly offer a range of disposable tableware and food containers that are compostable (in an industrial compost environment, it will degrade within 8 weeks) and made from environmentally friendly materials such as bioplastics. They work with several cafes, restaurants, and coffee roasters to eliminate the disposable cup problem. All the products are made from FSC paper and comply with PEFC standards. None of them contain bleach.
Additionally, products are certified carbon neutral and can be recycled or composted after a life cycle. Biopak's process of manufacturing, designing, and composting creates a circular economy. Their composting service operates in several areas throughout Australia and the compost produced goes into planting. As a company, they also give 7.5% of their profits to charitable organizations that benefit the local community and preservation of the Earth's resources.
They have received several testimonials for their products that praise them as well as a lot of media attention. Always expanding and looking for new ways to innovate – they recently became partners with Forest and Bird, a conservation company that they will support.
The company has partnered with Qantas to see the world's first zero-waste flight take off. BioPak's compostable packaging will be commercially composted and will replace Qantas' single-use plastics and disposable food packaging previously used.