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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Ecoalf is a fashion company based in Madrid that creates its entire clothing line using recycled materials including plastic bottles, tyres, coffee waste and fishing nets.
The company was created in 2009 with the aim of creating a sustainable model to reduce the burden on the worlds' natural resources as well as the amount of waste produced by large industries.
The company has launched a range of clothing and shoes made from nylon, wool, cotton and rubber gathered debris collected from the oceans, primarily off the Spanish and/or Thailand Coast. The Ecoalf Foundation involves over 3000 fishermen in 37 ports, adding a total of 550 trawlers and collecting more than 330 tons of garbage from the ocean-beds. Various components are used in the manufacturing process, such as:
Discarded Fishing nets,
PET Plastic Bottles,
Post-Industrial cottons and wool.
Some of their shoes collection have a water repellent outerwear made from post-consumer coffee grounds. The company has an agreement with a large coffee chain in Taiwan to take their used grounds, dry them out, refine them into a powder and mix them with recycled plastic polymers to create a new fabric (and no, it does not smell like coffee).
The goal of Ecoalfextends to create a recycled clothing brand with the same quality and technical advancements as non-recycled clothing brands in the market. The company is involved in the process from start to finish, be it waste collection, recycling, technologies, design or retail.
Ecoalf also refrains from the use of leather in its endeavor to use only those materials which have a low environmental impact and are animal friendly. Moreover, the company refrains from the use of C6 in its water resistant clothing, relying instead on CO, meaning its products are free of PFC (Free Fluorocarbon).
The Company operates three retail stores, in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain as well as Berlin, Germany and also runs an online retail store providing shipping worldwide.
The organization has received the B Corporation Certificate, signifying its commitment to people and the planet.