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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Elk Packaging has 35 years of expertise in packaging, and has gradually emerged as a leader in the packaging industry. They have achieved several milestones including in 2015, where they produced the fully compostable flexible film stand-up pouch, winning the Natural Products Expo West "Nexty" award for best packaging.
They are industry leaders in producing fully compostable flexible film structures. Elk has provided packaging for the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors for over 30 years. They engineer and produce custom packaging ranging from folding cartons, stand-up pouches, roll stock, flexible films, custom printed corrugated shippers, litho-laminated boxes, or fully decorated corrugated POP displays, etc.
Their clients include some top companies in the USA in producing sustainable and green packaging. This includes consultation for structural and functional design to creating innovative solutions. They have helped many partners change from conventional to sustainable packaging. Their turnkey services include commercial printing, lithographic printing for catalogs, brochures; flexographic printing for labels and film, and rotogravure printing for shrink sleeves and wraps.
Beside her position at Elk Packaging, Jeanne has been board member of Sustainable Collaborative Packaging since 2013. She has experience with food companies as Director at Alter EcoFoods (7 years), and Manager at Zhena's Gypsy Tea (3 years).