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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Envipco wants to contribute to a circular economy where the emphasis is not just on recycling, but closing the loop, so that raw materials supply is made sustainable. According to Envipco ‘a single pound of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flake uses 84% less energy and generates 71% fewer greenhouse gases than virgin resin.’
Started in Netherlands, Envipco has bases in the USA, Germany, France, Sweden, and partners in Australia, Greece and UK. This global firm manufacture has the patent for reverse-vending machines. Envipco manufactures, services, and maintains RVMs and other recycling technology for more than three decades. The company works with beverage and major bottle manufacturers, retailers and distributors to help them collect end-of-life bottles. Envipco has been a pioneer in the materials recovery sector, as it has moved beyond curbside and deposit areas and expanded to ‘non-deposit areas through couponing, incentive programs, and an advertising revenue-based model.’
Its machines are based on German engineering and can identify the difference between PET bottles and aluminium cans. These machines are sustainable as they reduce fuel consumption by pickup trucks through stopping and idling during collection. Besides manufacturing the machines they are also involved in transportation and logistics, accounting, recycling and processing. So it is not just the machines, the company is involved in the overall process of waste recovery.
Envipco's recovery solutions help retailers provide an enhanced recycling experience to drive traffic and increase customer loyalty. With advertising programs, branding and cross-promotional opportunities, and customer incentives incorporated right into the recovery solution, this is about more than saving space and labor devoted to beverage container recovery. Their recycling solutions can also serve as a revenue source and a vehicle to spark sales of other merchandise. Envipco which was started in the late 1970s by Bruce DeWoolfson, now sells its products around the globe. This recycling leader is covered extensively in Bloombery, recycling and finance journals.