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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Cellugy is a Biotech Startup working on the development of environmentally-friendly materials for flexible packaging. Their mission is to create sustainable packaging by utilizing a biomaterial derived from sugar with the same features as conventional plastics, biodegradable and highly recyclable.
Cellugy believes that current initiatives to handling plastic, such as collection schemes or modern recycling methods, have shown some effectiveness in reducing the amount of plastic leaked into the environment, but they fail to tackle the core problem: the material itself.
They have developed EcoFLEXY that is:
Home compostable: it can disintegrate and breakdown to fertile compost even at room temperature,
100% Biobased, made from sugar extracted out of fruit and vegetable waste,
Resistant to water and temperature, however biodegradable in soil,
Considered safe for food contact in compliance with related regulations,
Cost competitive as it is made using an optimum process and resources to be competitive in packaging industry.
Their promising biotech has been validated and awarded by several institutions, including:
The EIT Climate-KIC Nordic accelerator: Europe’s leading climate innovation initiative, has taken them on board in its acceleration program.
The Innovation Fund Denmark, a Danish foundation that supports new knowledge and technology creating growth and employment has invested in them in 2018.
The Venture Cup, a world leading startup organization based in Denmark. They selected them as GreenTech finalist and winner of the SoMe (Social Media) award in its 2017 Idea competition.
Cellugy was also the winner of the “people choice award” at Pitch for Peers competition (Denmark) in 2018 and of the “climate challenge” at the Dean’s Challenge competition (Aarhus University) in 2017. They have been selected among 24 finalists in the National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures’ Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge.