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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G.E.T. Enterprises developed the Eco-Takeouts® line of reusable take-out containers with the aim of solving the waste disposal issue caused by millions of used styrofoam containers which find their way from take-out food service establishments to landfills after only one single use.
Made of durable polypropylene, the reusable to-go containers can be sanitized in a dishwasher and put to service again and again.
Prominent features of the Eco-Takeout® containers are, a BPA Free build, which is NSF certified, Highly Durable Polypropylene, reusable & recyclable (#5), microwavable, leak resistant and customizable. The containers are offered in a number of variations, from soup containers to single, multiple compartment and stir-fry containers, all in a variety of sizes, along with replaceable handles and lids.
The Eco-Takeout® line is aimed at college, university and business food service providers.
The system is simple:
Users check out their containers and are able to consume their food outside the cafeteria.
The used containers are then returned, to be washed and sanitized dining service.
It is at the will of the client whether the containers are paid for by the users or supplied on a return-and-receive basis.
The Eco-Takeouts have been sold and used through several programs, such as the Go Box program developed in Portland and the GreenToGo program developed in Durham. The entire operation follows a closed-loop system. A box replaces, at minimum, 1,000 single-use boxes, which positively impacts waste management, climate and energy consumption.