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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At Fiberight, they foster technology that creates more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable processes to recover, recycle and repurpose valuable material found in every day household waste.
Their environmentally friendly process works with existing consumer behavior to enhance local recycling efforts and the upgraded commodities allow them to access and market to an expanded number of manufacturing sectors. All of this results in a more sustainable and profitable resource recovery solution for our partner communities.
According to a U.S. Department of Environmental Protection 2012 waste analysis, most of the contents of everyday trash in the US are recyclable materials. With recycling rates stagnating in many countries, including the US and UK, valuable materials such as food, paper and plastic are remaining in household waste destined to be lost forever.
The next-generation recycling technology upgrades the recovered materials into higher value products resulting in a more sustainable and profitable resource recovery solution. Designed for economic sustainability in an unpredictable and often volatile global recycling market, their technology was created with the flexibility to be implemented in any market around the globe, regardless of domestic habits, recycling mandates, or collection infrastructure.
Fiberight’s leading edge solution ensures mainstream recyclables, like paper, plastic, and metal inadvertently tossed in the trash are recovered rather than buried in a landfill or incinerated for energy.
The waste is delivered to their facility using the current and local waste collection infrastructure. The waste is de‐bagged, placed onto a conveyer and then split into two size fractions using a trommel. Dry textiles are recovered from the larger size fraction prior to pulping. Bulky items such as toasters and kettles are separated from the rest of the waste stream.
First the pulped material is washed which allows solubilization and separation of the food waste from the fiber and unrecyclable mixed materials. The fiber is then collected through their extraction process. The mixed unrecyclable materials (mostly plastic) have a high calorific value and can be used for internal energy generation.
The fiber which can be used as a solid fuel or within pulp moulded products can also be sent to hydrolysis where enzymes are used to break down the carbohydrates (cellulose and hemicellulose) in the fiber to produce sugars such as glucose, xylose and mannose. The liquid sugar stream is separated from the residual solid which has a high lignin content.
The solubilized food waste is processed through anaerobic digestion which converts this material into biogas (biomethane and carbon dioxide). The process also cleans the water which is recycled in a closed loop back to washing and extraction.
Our environment is suffering from inadequate or diminishing disposal and recycling options for household waste.
Fiberight’s team of international scientists and engineers have developed an innovative process to recover sustainable resources from waste.
Stuart-Paul has been involved in the science, operations and management of brewing and recycling businesses for almost two decades. He launched the Oxford Brewing Company. He segued from brewing into the recycling business with the formation of Resource Recovery of Maryland.
Philip has studied Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University. He is also the Managing Partner, Life Sciences Industry at Accenture and Board Chairman at FastForm Holdings Ltd.