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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Full Cycle tackles plastic pollution and climate change by transforming organic matter into a compostable alternative to oil-based plastics. Organic waste is the third largest man-made generator of greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to climate change and global warming.
Full Cycle’s Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastic is produced naturally by bacteria using mixed organic waste as raw material. It can replace a wide range of synthetic plastics, yet it is compostable and marine degradable once its useful life is over. It is also cost-competitive with fossil-fuel based alternatives, creating the potential for widespread adoption and scale in both developed and emerging markets.
The company produces superior PHA bioplastic which is very cost competitive with the traditional, synthetic oil-based plastics. The technology uses non-GMO bacteria which is suitable for co-location in non-sterile, industrial operating environments. Their PHA is compostable, marine degradable and food-contact safe. The technology takes in heterogeneous waste inputs and produces consistent polymer outputs. After use PHA becomes a raw material that can be upcycled into virgin PHA. The circular approach by the company impoves waster industry profitability, enables regenerative upcycling of the compostable material and gives the consumers a choice in sustainable packaging material.
Biodegradation of PHA depends on how bacteria rich the environment is. In environments with large amounts of bacteria, the material can decompose in a month. However, in an environment that is stable, for example store shelves, it is stable for years. Full Cycle can convert any organic waste into PHA. This includes inedible food waste, agricultural residues, and green waste. Anything that can normally go into a compost row or an anaerobic digester can be converted to PHA! Full Cycle can also convert dirty and unrecyclable cellulosic material such a paper or cardboard.
Full Cycle has received awards and recognition from Ellen MacArthur Foundation, New Plastics Economy, Think Beyond Plastic, SEA Award and many more.