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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Cove’s mission is to replace single-use plastic bottles everywhere with a fully biodegradable alternative.
Plastic takes thousands of years to disintegrate, but it will never really go away; Cove is more like a flower or an orange peel than plastic.
The cylinder and cap are made of a naturally occurring biopolymer PHA. The label is made of paper and non-ecotoxic inks and adhesives.
Cove is BPA-free. All of Cove’s materials are food-grade approved (FDA).
The shelf-life is six months and can be refilled up to the use-by date as it doesn't have to be single-use. At the end of its life cycle, putting the bottle in a compost bin is best, as it will biodegrade the fastest in an industrial compost environment. A regular trash can is ok too. Cove bottle can't be put in a recycling bin yet. Most recycling plants don’t accept PHA; Cove is pushing for that to change. Each Cove bottle contains 500ml of high-quality, natural spring water from Palomar Mountain, California. As they expand, they will set up sourcing close to each new region where Cove becomes available. They are not interested in shipping bottled water across oceans and continents.
The material will break down into CO₂, water, and organic waste; this will happen in compost or a landfill, and even in the ocean. Cove is currently doing testing to be able to provide accurate time frames across a range of different scenarios. The most conservative estimate right now says a Cove bottle will take five years to biodegrade in soil; but of all the possible environments to consider, 100% soil is one of the environments least conducive to biodegradation. It is also extremely unlikely that a Cove bottle will be fully buried away from the organic waste found in landfills and composts. Biodegradation in compost, landfills, and the ocean will likely happen much sooner than five years.
All Cove's manufacturing, filling, and packing for the California launch happens in LA. They will carefully select manufacturing and distribution partners as they expand (based on their partner's environmental standards and if they participate in the following where possible in their processes: renewable energy use, carbon offsetting, and other environmental stewardship programs). This process will allow the startup to localize production and minimize transportation.
If ordering to California, you can pre-order boxes of Cove on their website. A box of 12 bottles is available on this site for $24. A limited quantity will be available within California in May 2019. When Cove becomes available at California stockists, the information will be posted on the website.
Cove will be available for purchase in New York City, followed by other cities, later in 2019. They will sell the bottles for $1 to retailers and push stores to keep the price at $2 and below.
Cove has secured investments from a group of notable individuals, including business leader and philanthropist Marc Benioff, author and entrepreneur Tony Robbins, Bebo co-founder Michael Birch, Incite.org, and the founders of Casper, Nest, The Honest Company, and Dollar Shave Club.