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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With its proprietary technology, Enerkem converts non-recyclable municipal solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely used chemical intermediates. 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated each year around the world. 70% of this municipal solid waste is either landfilled or incinerated. Enerkem’s technology provides a sustainable waste management solution which is complementary to recycling and composting.
Their technology uses waste materials normally destined to landfill or incineration, such as textiles, non-recyclable plastics, wood residues, or soiled food containers. Producing biofuels and renewable chemicals from non-recyclable and non-compostable garbage also respects the waste hierarchy already adopted in several countries and building the circular economy. Enerkem’s patented technology chemically recycles the biogenic and non-biogenic carbon contained in non-recyclable waste and residues.
In less than 5 minutes, their exclusive waste conversion process first transforms this carbon into a pure synthesis gas (also called syngas), which is then converted into biofuels and renewable chemicals, using commercially available catalysts. Each Enerkem waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility helps communities increase their waste diversion rate to as high as 90%.
Enerkem’s community-based facilities have a compact footprint. The facilities can be installed at landfill sites, next to transfer stations or petrochemical facilities.
Headquartered in Canada, Enerkem owns a full-scale commercial facility in Alberta as well as an innovation center in Quebec. The company is developing additional biorefineries in North America and globally, based on its modular manufacturing approach. Enerkem’s technology and facilities help diversify the energy mix and make everyday products greener while offering a sustainable alternative to landfilling and incineration.
Enerkem’s technology is the result of technology inspired by the research and development led by Dr. Esteban Chornet, Professor Emeritus at the Université de Sherbrooke (Québec, Canada). Professor Chornet and his son Vincent saw the opportunity to develop a revolutionary technology and bring it to the market. Vincent Chornet, as President and CEO, has been the guiding force behind Enerkem’s development since 2000, obtaining C$504 million in private financing and government support, and growing the company to 200 employees.
Vincent Chornet has been the guiding force behind Enerkem’s stellar evolution since the company’s inception in 2000. Prior to heading Enerkem, Mr. Chornet was involved in the development and funding of industrial projects and start-up companies in the energy and specialty chemicals sectors, including Bioxalis Medica, Fractal Systems, and Kemestrie. Mr. Chornet is a Director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council in the United States, and was a member of the Cleantech Advisory Board to the Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry from 2012 to 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration, concentration in finance, from HEC Montréal (Québec).
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