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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EnviroLife is a food packaging solution from Sustana, a manufacturer of eco-friendly recycled fibers to customers across North America. EnviroLife allows brands to reduce their environmental impact by using recycled fiber in direct-contact food packaging. It claims to be the only 100% post-consumer recycled fiber that is FDA-compliant for direct food contact under all conditions of use.
EnviroLife has significantly lower environmental impact than virgin fiber. Using state-of-the-art equipment, energy saving strategies and advanced technologies, Sustana has constantly endeavored to reduce its water consumption, electricity use and overall energy use. In a recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis undertaken by the AGÉCO research and consulting firm, EnviroLife’s environmental impact was much lower than that of generic North American market virgin fiber. The LCA measured 15 key environmental indicators, including global warming, water consumption impact, and ozone depletion. Notably, EnviroLife demonstrated a lower environmental impact than virgin fiber for all indicators across the board.
Sustana’s Chairman and CEO, Fabian de Armas, speaks about EnviroLife’s unique environmental benefits. EnviroLife’s patented manufacturing process eliminates optical brightening agents (OBAs), resulting in a product which is suitable for food contact with no need for a barrier or coating. Furthermore, because of this treatment, EnviroLife is free from contaminants which are present in most other post-consumer fibers. Straight from production, EnviroLife is ready to be used in all food packaging applications, including takeaway containers, soup containers, coffee and tea cups, coffee bags, cheese/meat interleaving paper, bread bags and more.
EnviroLife is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC), making it one of many Sustana products which meet the FSC’s strict environmental and social standards.
EnviroLife’s low environmental impact helps food-serving brands meet their sustainability goals, and answer the growing consumer demand for environmentally-friendly products.
Mr. Fabian C. de Armas serves as a Principal at H.I.G. Capital, LLC. He joined the firm in 2005 and was involved in all aspects of the investment process. Previously, he was a Founding Member at Edgeview Partners LLC. Prior to that, Mr. de Armas worked at First Union Securities Mergers and Acquisitions Group. He serves on the Board of several H.I.G. Capital portfolio companies. Mr. de Armas holds an M.B.A., with distinction from Harvard Business School and a B.S., cum laude from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.