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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Freecycle, also called The Freecycle Network, has thousands of groups operating around the world, with nearly 10 million members participating. It is a grassroots and entirely non-profit movement of people who want to reuse stuff instead of sending it to the landfill or letting it lie around unused at homes.
People donate their unwanted stuff by offering it free of charge to other members within the local area. Each local group is moderated by volunteers, and membership is free. The local moderators who run the places are not only in charge of local operations, they also communicate nationally and internationally. Everybody follows a common set of Freecycle rules and guidelines that have been agreed to globally via the international Moderator Leadership Community
Freecycle has a simple Wikipedia style website that provides basic information. Since it is a global organization, the website appears in the local language wherever possible, making it easier to just find your locality and get started
Freecycle was started by Deron Beal in the USA in May 2003. The headquarters of the organization is in Tucson, Arizona. Many digital publications provide information about this handy and well-used service. The organization and its founder have won an impressive list of awards and certificates such as Arizona Golden Rule Citizen Certificate; Organic Style Magazine, Top 50 people in the country, Environmental Power List etc.
Deron Beal has been the Executive Director of Freecycle since its inception in 2003. He had recycling experience in his two previous work places as Enterprise Manager at Cope Behavioral Services and Rise Inc.
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