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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Element Packaging, a UK based company manufactures Origo - a cornstarch based plastic, which is used to make plates, lunch boxes, dessert and soup bowls, cutlery and carrier bags. The company wants to tackle the problems of waste in a landfill, air pollution due to the incineration of plastics, and reduce CO2 emissions, and dependence on fossil fuels.
They make affordable eco-friendly disposable tableware ideal for takeouts, and for use in restaurants, delis and at home. These are ideal as a replacement for Styrofoam that is usually used for these purposes. Cornstarch is used to produce their biobased products such as the cutlery and clamshell lunchboxes. ~80% of the content is corn and yam starch, and the PP is only ~20%, which makes the product strong and great for hot and wet foods whilst maintaining its eco background.
Origo is 100% biodegradable and certifies by ISO. It is safe during use, as it does not release any harmful substances on warming, it is microwaveable and freezable. It can withstand temperatures of -20 °C to 150 °C. It can be reused three times and is water and oil proof. If it is burnt on disposal it does not release any harmful gases like plastics usually do. After degrading it can be used as fertilizers.
Element Packaging is available in four continents [USA, UK, India, China, Singapore, Australia, Oman, Cambodia, Myanmar, Solomon Islands, Israel, Russia, Romania, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Italy, Philippines and Malaysia]. It is sold in bulk and retail.
Founded in 2014, the company is based in Devon; the founder Rohit B has been the Director since the start. They were featured in Quickbite and Caterer. They were finalists for Takeway and Restaurants Innovation awards in 2016.