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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Frammento is a collection of skateboards made by reviving end-of-life tyres. The skateboards were developed by product designer, Paolo Gentile as part of his thesis. He is a recent graduate from the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan. Ecopneus and Casei Ecosystems guided the designer with knowledge regarding ELTs and helped him source raw material.
Globally, only around 7% of waste tyres are recycled on site, while 11 are burned for fuel and 5% exported for processing elsewhere. The remaining 77% are sent to landfills or are dumped illegally. This amounts to 765 million tyres wasted every year. Even in countries that import waste tyres to convert to fuel, they have been linked to pollution and, in the case of Malaysia, even mass poisoning.
Over the years, although tyres have undergone significant improvements in terms of efficiency safety and environmental impact, recycling them has been a challenge and cause of pollution. Paolo’s application of end-of-life tyres is a sustainable alternative to this problem.
The Frammento skateboards are made using rubber granules that are a byproduct of shredding end-of-life tyres. The granules are mixed with glue, and then press-moulded into a skateboard. They also make for a cheap raw material and one that maintain all the technical properties of rubber such as grip, durability, elasticity, impact resistance and traction. These are also the exact characteristics that skateboards need.
Like Frammento skateboards, end-of-life tyres could also find applications for other products that require durability, impact resistance and elaticity such as shoes, ant-slip mats, children’s playgrounds.