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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Sustainable packaging and feedstock producer Genera Energy has developed a new line of sustainable packaging products named Earthable®.
With the growing demand for eco-friendly consumer products, Genera has secured a funding of $118 million to establish its first manufacturing facility for the Earthable® range.
Genera will source a variety of grasses and agricultural crops to generate renewable Earthable® fibres. These fibres are supplied to pulp users and are moulded into food-grade quality packaging, bowls and food service ware.
The Earthable® range has a variety of features like:
Low Carbon Footprint
Virgin Food Grade Quality
The fibres are 100% compostable, helping drive a circular economy through their use.
Earthable® fibres are sourced from low-chemical, high-yielding crops. The crops are evaluated by national laboratories and are sustainably grown by local farmers. Genera has begun to work with Tennessee farmers to produce the feedstock for the new facility.
The funding has been offered by WindSail Capital Group in collaboration with Coppermine Capital and Stairway Capital.
Earthable® fibres can be used to manufacture plates, bowls, takeout containers, towels, tissues, cup stock and other paper and packaging products.