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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Textile startup Flocus uses advanced technology to develop yarn blends and fillings with Kapok, a highly sustainable fiber.
The Kapok tree is found in regions of South America and the West Indies and produces fruitless pods which are filled with fibers. Kapok requires no irrigation, pesticides or fertilizers and the fibers are easy to develop.
With thin count yarn blends, Flocus Fashion offers a unique open-source textile concept where tailors can customize the blends required for their fabric.
The Kapok tree itself offers a number of benefits as raw material for the sustainable textile industry:
Avoids erosion and deforestation
Preserves water and organically fertilizes the land
Renewable non-food crop
Sequesters carbon and supports poly cropping
Each Kapok tree produces up to 30 kilos of fiber once fully grown.
Kapok is five times lighter than cotton and is waterproof and hypoallergenic. Flocus Fashion blends Kapok fibers with cotton, lyocell and recycled polyester to produce new generation sustainable yarn for the textile industry.
With their technology, Flocus produces yarn blends which can be used for the following products:
Fiber and Stuffing
The resultant blends can be combined with various dyes and customized according to the requirement of the clients. Using Kapok blends aids companies in reducing their carbon footprint due to the natural sustainable properties of the tree.
Flocus aims to work with all elements in the textile supply chain to establish circularity and scale up to commercialize the Kapok blends. Flocus products are BCI, GOTS and GRS certified.
The startup was one of the participants in the 2019 Fashion For Good Accelerator Program.