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 new investment in low energy polyester recycling has been launched by Cumapol, DSM-Niaga, and Morssinkhof.
Existing polyester recycling techniques require a relatively clean waste stream of clear or light blue polyester bottles. In this context, there is a lack of recycling possibility for colored polyesters or mixed polyesters (i.e. carpet, textile and food packaging), which in most cases still end up at landfill or incineration.
The goal with CuRe is to recycle used polyester waste streams in polyester suitable for high demanding applications like carpets, textile and food packaging. Realising low energy recycling for different polyester product waste streams is a major step towards a fully circular polyester chain, the partnership was established and is now kicking-off with a pilot plant, to prove the technical and financial sustainability of a new technology for thermoplastic polyester recycling.
The CuRe Polyester Recycling Technology enables a continuous polyester recycling process for post consumer and post industry polyester waste streams – including packaging materials and textile products – and cleans the original plastic material from contaminants and color. It allows to treat any type of used polyester, remove the color and turn it back into clear pellets with the same properties as virgin. Used polyester recycled with the CuRe technology is food grade, and therefore it can be applied again in any typical polyester application.
There are other partners working together with CuRe: two Universities of Applied Science (NHL Stenden and Windesheim) and DuFor Polyester specialties.
The CuRe pilot line should be operational for the summer of 2019.