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 technology company Biotrem was founded in 2012 and offers an innovative production process of bio-based tableware and packaging. Their patented technology involves manufacturing biodegradable disposable tableware from sustainable organic raw materials, such as wheat bran, cassava by-products or even algae.
Their main product line is fully biodegradable disposable tableware produced from compressed wheat bran. Their products also include cutlery made from mix of PLA bioplastic and wheat bran.
Their products are not only safe, natural and biodegradable but reduce the waste stream by utilizing bio-based by-products. Biotrem is already selling its products in over 40 markets worldwide, and they are currently discussing further large-scale commercialization of their technology with a number of potential partners from North and South America, Asia and Europe.
With their own production facility and state-of-the-art machine park (developed internally and patent-protected), Biotrem delivers its products to mass-market clients including selected restaurant chains and premium retailers, either directly or through distributors. With over 5 million Euro spent on R&D to date, the company is continuously working on new innovations in terms of shapes, raw materials and production processes. Their production process is certified by BRC (food production safety level). DIN Certo for composting certifies their products.
Their products are an alternative to most disposable tableware, i.e. made from paper or plastic, the production and utilisation of which is burdensome to the environment. Their production process does not require significant amounts of water, or mineral resources, or chemical compounds. From 1 ton of pure, edible wheat bran they produce up to 10,000 units of plates or bowls. Their products are fully biodegradable – through composting – in just 30 days.
They are suitable for serving hot and cold meals and can be safely used in classic ovens (up to 180 C) or microwave ovens (up to 750 W). Their products are environmentally friendly and fully compostable (home composting) in just 30 days.
They will introduce new products: dip cup, plate 10 cm and vodka shot in 2019. They are offering bulk packages (100 pcs) and retail boxes per 10 pcs (10-packs).