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.
Thank you for your interest in Ubuntoo. We’re excited that you’re here! You will need premium membership with us to access this GreenHouse. To continue, please upgrade your membership.To continue, you’ll need an account with us.
BioXycle is a biotech startup founded in 2018 that is developing a process to chemically degrade PET plastic into its monomers. The firm is looking for funding to help develop the technology to a commercial scale.
PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is a widely used plastic material with applications in beverage bottles and consumer packaging. But it takes almost 800 years to decompose. Only 20% PET is recycled in the United States and the process is time-consuming and costly.
The firm has developed a composition that uses a naturally occurring enzyme known as PETase, which can degrade plastic into monomers. BioXycle has developed a geneticallyengineering variant of PETase which would degrade PET faster and more efficiently. It has applied for a patent for the bio-engineered enzyme as well as for a process that accelerates the biodegradation process of the enzyme.
The degradation process would break down PET into its original chemical monomers ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. From these substances, PET plastic can be recreated and reused in plastic products. The process applies only to PET.
This process avoids the recycling of PET, which involves separation, cleaning and melting. Moreover, recycling converts PET into polyester that is used in products like carpets, and does not satisfy the demand for PET products, for which new PET has to be manufactured from petroleum based sources. BioXycle aims to provide a 360-degree solution by providing converting PET waste into fresh PET.
BioXycle is seeking funding in order to conduct laboratory tests to verify its process, and to develop the technology to make it commercially scalable and viable.