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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Since 2005 Elvis & Kressehave been rescuing raw materials, transforming them into luxury lifestyle accessories and donating 50% of profits back to charities. This ethical company is now upcycling all of London’s decommissioned firehoses into hand-crafted luxury lifestyle accessories.
The London Fire Brigade discards up to 4 tons of fire hoses every year. This essential fire-fighting equipment needs to be replaced when it’s beyond repair or is no longer compliant with health and safety regulations. To date, 175 tonnes of material has been saved from landfill and reclaimed. Beside benefiting the environment, 50% of the profits from this innovation are donated to the Fire Fighters Charity.
Unlike most designers that start with a concept or vision, Elvis & Kresse works completely backwards. The company starts with a waste problem, and then research and develop products best suited for that material.
While UK fire hoses were the first waste material they set out to transform, Elvis & Kresse now works with old parachute silk, leftover leather scraps, coffee sacs and more. So far, the team have diverted over 165 tonnes of waste from landfills, entirely eliminating fire hose waste in the UK.
The hoses are strong enough to tackle the toughest conditions first time around, the hose has been re-engineered to protect essential toiletries – the hose itself is obviously water-resistant – and securing what’s inside. The fire hoes are usually in red, yellow or brown and it helps the fire hose to get anew life and turn into something magnificent.
Kresse Wesling MBE and James Henrit, founders of luxury bag and accessory company Elvis & Kresse, have been presented with a prestigious award at The Fire Fighters Charity’s Spirit of Fire Awards.
Kresse Wesling, MBE graduated from McGill University, and is a multi-award winning environmental entrepreneur and Young Global Leader with a background in venture capital and significant start-up experience.