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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Gelatex Technologies is developing an organic leather like eco-textile Gelatex that does not only look but also feels like leather.
The team behind Gelatex started to work on the idea in spring 2016 with the aim of making the textile industry more sustainable. Their goal was to make eco-friendly materials mass-produced in a fast and cost-effective way.
The idea of using gelatin for the production of leather like textile grew out of university research. The company Gelatex Technologies was founded in November 2016 in Estonia by two co-founders.
Gelatex is a non-woven textile that is produced using gelatin that is made of low value waste of meat or leather industries. So besides skin it is possible to make leather like textiles from bones also, getting up to 5 times more material from the same animal. The properties of the material such as thickness, texture or even water resistance are customizable during the manufacturing process. The material comes in rolls, enabling faster cutting, a simplified design process and 15-20% less material waste.
Gelatex production uses only natural, non-toxic substances, reducing harm to the environment. This makes it safer for people and animals living in the surrounding areas, to workers producing Gelatex, and consumers of the products.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The Startup won the Green Alley Award 2019.