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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Eco-Products, Inc started by making products from recycled materials. The disposable line started in 1993. It was in 2007 that they made products under their own name with a new technology, that allowed them to make Corn Plastic or PLA.
They began to produce the disposables in their new material to provide a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based plastics. Soon they began making bioplastics with other materials such as wheat straw and sugarcane as well.
They have many firsts to their credit, such as the first hot cup that had 24% post-consumer recycled fiber; or the Ecolid25, the world’s first post-consumer recycled polystyrene hot cup lid.
They have two lines- the GreenStripe products made from renewables that are commercially compostable; and the BlueStripe products made with post-consumer recycled content. The products they make with their plastic materials are: hot cups, cold cups, paper food containers, food containers, clear containers, sugarcane containers, wheat straw containers, plates, bowls, utensils, lids, clam shells, kid specials, and others.
Besides supplying disposables, they provide services like custom prints, custom shapes, or communication support. For the really environmentally minded, they offer closed loop recycling and custom carbon foot printing.