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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CupClub™ offers a tailored end-to-end service helping to reduce single-use plastic packaging by up to 47%.
An estimated 600 billion coffee cups are thrown out every year, which also means 600 billion plastic lids and 600 billion pieces of paper coated in plastic insulation. And these can't be recycled.
In 2015, Safia Qureshi and Maxwell Mutanda had created Studio [D] Tale using design to create high-impact change in cities and decided to create a circular system for cups that would be easily adopted by both coffee shops and coffee drinkers. This system would allow customers to throw out their used cup into a collection center, rather than the trash. And CupClub was officially launched in June 2019.
The company creates plastic cups that can be used 132 times before being recycled. They are designed to be used in coffee shops. There are cup drop-off points available throughout London—primarily in participating coffee shops—so when a customer is done with his drink, it can simply be tossed in one of these bins.
CupClub manages the collect of these used cups, cleans them using industrial dishwashers, and redistributes them to coffee shops.
The cups and lid out of low-density polypropylene are fully recyclable. CupClub is tracking these cups as each cup is fitted with an RFID chip that makes it identifiable throughout its entire life cycle.
Customers need to opt in to be part of CupClub. They download an app, and whenever they are at a coffee shop that makes these cups available, they can use the service. If the cup hasn't been returned after several days, CupClub assumes the customer wants to keep the cup, and they are charged $3 for it.
CupClub™ partners are:
Offices, headquarters & in-house cafes
Closed-loop campus & venues: CupClub™ is ideal for closed-loop venues and campus environments (including government departments, universities and institutions)
Airports are also an emerging and exciting application
Festivals or events: CupClub provides cups, drop-off cases and communications
The team consists of technologists, designers and engineers, as well as an extended network of strategic advisors. It is backed by institutional investors R/GA Ventures, the investment arm of global digital agency R/GA which counts clients like Nike, Siemens, and Beats.
CupClub innovation has been selected by the NextGenCup Challenge team among 12 ideas for their reusable cup service model. It has been awarded as well the 2017 Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize and joined the 2018 R/GA IoT Venture Studio Accelerator.
Safia Qureshi is an award-winning Architect, innovation designer and educator. Born in London, UK, she launched Studio [D] Tale in 2015 to build projects with high social and environmental impact. She then incubated and launched CupClub™ - returnable packaging service for drinks in 2016. She has been a guest critic at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, Royal College of Art and London Metropolitan University. She is currently on the network of professional mentors for the RIBA.