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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#LongLiveTheLunchbox is a voluntary scheme related to the food-to-go business and is currently open to new outlets, with Global Action Planurging potential partners of any size and in any UK location to sign up.
The scheme under pilot launched by the NGO involves so far more than 100 food and drink outlets across England. Businesses in three major cities – London, Brighton and Oxford – as well as smaller towns and villages in Sussex and the North East, have signed up.
Participating businesses are required to display pink “we accept your containers here" stickers in their windows and to list themselves on Global Action Plan’s interactive digital map, which uses GPS to tell users where their nearest participating outlet is.
In order to incentivize container reuse, some businesses taking part have committed to offering a 10% discount or extra loyalty card stamp to those who bring their own lunchbox.
The campaign's communication for the scheme is exclusively done through Instagram, with posting of images and videos bringing the scale of the plastic waste problem to life.
Through this campaign, the NGO hopes to inspire people to change their consumption behavior, say no to single-use plastic when possible and start bringing their own lunchboxes when grabbing lunch on the go. “It's exciting to see the enthusiasm from cafes and customers already.” said Global Action Plan youth panel member Annie Pigeon to Edie.net.
Global Action Plan is working to enable people to live in ways that are better for them and the planet. With the help of innovative companies and founders they support people to demand and drive a happier, healthier future for themselves and the planet.