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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A social and ethical company based in UK, Choose Water is doing charitable work and also creating products to stop the plastic bottle problem. All of their profits go to a charity they work alongside – Water For Africa.
Originally formed when the charity was working in Africa helping provide water. They observed there was a big problem with plastic waste in the form of bottles and decided to create a product to tackle this.
Their water bottles are 100% plastic free and designed as a replacement to plastic water bottles. Biodegradable and made from sustainable materials, it means that in a few months after disposal they leave behind no micro-particles or heavy materials in the environment. The steel cap rusts into iron oxide – a naturally occurring material for decomposing. Inside lining is made from materials beneficial to the soil and marine life whilst being 100% all natural. Lastly their outer packaging is environmentally friendly due to recycled paper that is de-inked, cleaned and dyed in a sustainable way to produce the brands label.
Alternatively, they offer glass bottles of their British bottled water too. Their clients include a range of hotels, cafes and restaurants that wish to make a positive difference in London and Edinburgh.
Choose Water has been selected to receive funding from Sky Ocean Ventures and Innovate UK – which is the Government’s innovation agency – as they announced a £6m joint funding commitment in the global battle against plastic pollution.