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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Genecis makes biodegradable plastic that can be used to make thermo-resistant packaging, compostable coffee pods and 3D printing filaments, among many other applications.
PHAs are a type of high-quality biodegradable thermoplastics, produced by microorganisms. Genecis modifies the mechanical properties and biocompatibility of PHA polymers by adjusting microbial compositions. By using systemic biological design to convert mixed organic waste into carbon sources, their PHA bacteria cocktail is able to efficiently produce PHA bioplastics at a claimed 40% lower cost than current commercial productions.
The PHAs Genecis make are 100% compostable and can be moulded into products such as flexible packaging and 3D printing filaments. In nature and landfills, it can degrade within a single year. If it ends up in the recycling stream, it is one of the only types of bioplastics that can be recombined with petrol plastics into recycled resin.
They are an award-winning team of scientists and engineers from distinctive backgrounds in biotechnology, biochemistry, engineering, data analytics and automation. Together, they aim to extract the greatest value from waste materials. Genesis' current biotechnology produces PHBVs, a high-quality biodegradable plastic that is used to make thermo-resistant packaging and 3D printing filaments. By using waste as the feedstock, they are able to dramatically reduce the cost of production. Their next step is to rapidly engineer bacteria that converts organic waste into high-grade specialty chemicals.