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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Colorifix is a company that produces, deposit, and fix pigments into textiles using a biological process.
The company aims at bringing a real change in the textile industry and has sustainability as its core value. It was founded by three like-minded people who realized the impact of the textile and fashion industry on the water while they were developing biological sensors to monitor heavy metal contamination in drinking water in rural Nepal. The dyeing industry is one of the largest water consumers in the world, and it uses a huge amount of highly toxic chemicals in the process. Therefore Colorifix uses a biological process to produce and fix pigments onto textiles, cutting the use of harsh chemicals and reducing water consumption.
How is it done?
A color created by living things such as animals, plants, or microbes is chosen.
Work is done on what encodes the instructions for making a pigment via DNA sequencing; then the message is translated into engineered microorganisms that are used for expanding and transferring colors.
The colors are created in the lab, and then a tiny quantity of live microorganisms are shipped to local fermentation partners, who then grow the color using by-products of the sugar production industries. Microorganisms are then transported locally and used directly in place of dye liquor.
The technology allows dyeing in both natural and synthetic fibers in room temperature.
Colorifix has won the Andam Innovation Prize and Biostart. The company has several investor partners: Challenger 88, Cambridge Enterprise, Primera Impact, and H&M CO:LAB.