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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Converting difficult-to-recycle waste such as coffee cups with a low carbon technology
Carbogenics started in 2016 and is a spin out from the University of Edinburgh. They have developed a low carbon technology to convert difficult-to-recycle and low-value paper waste such as disposable coffee cups, paper towels, and more into a range of high-value products with applications in bioprocesses and horticulture.
Carbogenics products maximize biogas output, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and optimize agricultural yields. Carbogenics' patent-pending process is based on a technology known as pyrolysis and yields carbon-rich solids (sometimes called biochar) as well as heat, power, and biochemicals that are useful in a variety of applications.
The functional carbon composites that result from pyrolysis intensify bioprocesses like anaerobic digestion and bioremediation. Their first product CreChar for AD is an additive for Anaerobic Digestion (AD) designed to increase the output of biogas plants by at least 15%. CreChar does this by absorbing harmful substances like ammonia, releasing nutrients like magnesium, and supporting a more productive and resilient microbial community. Maximizing the biogas output of a growing number of AD plants in the world is not just commercially important, but also of great environmental value as it generates low carbon energy.
The Carbogenics team combines committed researchers from the UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC) at the University of Edinburgh as well as business and marketing professionals.
Working with waste management companies and partners in the AD industry, Carbogenics' products are of the highest quality and fulfill the technical, economic and environmental requirements for the integration of pyrolysis in a waste-based refinery.
Their goal is to become a global company in the Cleantech sector and a market leader in carbon upcycling.
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Edinburgh, Scotland, Europe
Stage of Development
Scale Up TRL 8
Value Chain Impact
Waste to Energy
Co-Founder & CEO
Jan Mumme Has been managing Carbogenics Ltd since its foundation in April 2016. With a strong background in research, his last position prior to starting Carbongenics was researcher at The University of Edinburgh.
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