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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Cataki is a movement connecting the waste collectors and recyclers of Brazil through a smartphone app. They also enable anyone interested in running a recycling or waste management program. This is an of-shoot of the very popular campaign of "Pimp my Carroca" under which the waste collectors received an upgrade to their waste collecting carts by local designers and artists.
Five years have passed since the inaugural Pimp My Carroça. Back in 2012 a group occupied Anhangabaú, in the center of São Paulo, to protest the rights of street recyclers, or ‘catadores’ as they’re known in Brazil. 40 waste collectors, 300 volunteers and 54 artists attended and pimped-out the handmade carts workers use to collect trash.
Then have since then launched a new free app Cataki that connects recyclable waste collectors to people who want to recycle.
Why Cataki? The collectors collect about 90% of everything that is recycled in Brazil. Self-employed workers are the basis of the pyramid of an unregulated and unrecognized sector. They survive by selling what they collect. Plastic and cardboard, for example, are worth about R $0.20 / kg, and the glass about R $0.05 / kg.
Cataki exists to benefit generators and waste pickers, increasing recycling and income. All materials can be reproduced. The materials of Cataki are published under an open license, which allows the free reproduction and remix of the content, including for profit, as long as the authorship is recognized and also that all derivative works are also published under a license open. In Brazil, there are 800,000 scavengers. In Cataki, only 300 are registered, so as the team says: "there is still a lot of work to do".