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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Cellulopack makes moulded cellulose and packaging material from recycled post-consumer paper and cardboard waste. The materials are also 100% compostable and biodegradable according to the EU 13342 norms.
Recycling paper not only saves resources but also water and energy in the production processes. The Cellulopack thermoformed process is used in combination with modern machines where high pressure is used during drying to produce a rigid material. This is capable of handling shocks, vibrations or inclines. The exterior produced is smooth, neat and produces perfect denesting, so Cellulopack requires 50% less space than other cup products.
Their products are used in the Food sector for Egg boxes, cup holders, fruits and vegetable trays, meat trays, bottle wedges and disposable plates. Their Home catering food trays are 100% compostable and biodegradable. They are sealable, suitable for food contact and seal grease, water or sauces. Industrial and cushioning packaging inserts to pack mobile phones, bulbs, personal hygiene products, electronics, food, padding, measuring instruments, and shoetrees. Their Cup carriers come in many shapes and sizes and are used for coffee, soda, beer, fruit juices and smoothies. They save space, and are easy to destack.
Oliver Mas is a French native who graduated from Neoma Business School. Prior to his current position, he served as a financial controller at EADS Astrium between years 2009 to 2013, and before that as a Senior Auditor at KPMG and Ernst & Young.