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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Non-profit organization Foodcloud runs a technological platform linking local charities and community groups to retailers with surplus food.
It is estimated that nearly 1 million tonnes of food is wasted per year in Ireland. Alongside, every 1 in 11 people in Ireland experience food poverty. With their platform, Foodcloud aims to reduce the food wasted by retailers in Ireland, simultaneously alleviating food poverty by reaching surplus food to those in need.
The Foodcloud system works in two steps, benefitting retailers and charities:
Suppliers or retailers log surplus food items onto Foodcloud using the app or the in-store scanner.
Partner local charities respond to notifications by accepting and agreeing for the collection of the items.
This allows businesses to cut down on food loss and contribute to communities. Charities save on food costs, allowing funds to go towards other core duties.
Since their inception in 2013, Foodcloud has achieved milestones goals in Ireland and the UK:
Supplied the equivalent of 70 million meals.
94,078 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions avoided.
Approximately 20,000 tonnes of food saved from wastage.
Over 95,000 community groups supported in Ireland and the UK.
The Foodcloud app is currently available for download and uses in the UK and Ireland for both retailers and local charities.
Additionally, Foodcloud Hubs are located in Cork, Galway and Dublin, allowing local charities to collect long-term preservable food at any time at a low operational cost.