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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Gomi is a handful of creative-thinkers that are helping transition to a circular economy system where waste is non-existent, and where every product has the potential to hold its value through strategic design thinking from the initial conceptualisation.
Their first product is portable speaker using flexible plastic waste that is normally not recyclable by local councils in the UK.
The speaker is made from three modular marbled-plastic components, and is made using a combination of traditional craft techniques and digital fabrication. The speakers are hand-marbled, which means that every product has its own individual aesthetic.
The flexible plastic used is heated just enough to become malleable but not enough to release toxic gases into the air. Each batch is hand-swirled so the colors intertwine with catching veining. Then, it’s pressurized in a mold, which solidifies the material.
Gomi aims to have free repairs for their products and a free returning for recycling. The products are designed to be modular, so they can be separated easily, and the plastic components can easily be melted into new components for future products - without losing any material value.
Gomiwill be going on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter on 26th February 2019. Alongside releasing the Speaker, they will also be releasing a portable power bank and wireless charger for smartphones made out of the same waste material.
“Our components are made from 100% recycled non-recyclable plastic. We have worked with audio professionals and electronics engineers over the past twelve months to ensure the product is not only aesthetically desirable, but also sounds great. We have also paired up with major food wholesalers in Sussex, who have vast amounts of this specific plastic waste. We are also accepting plastic waste from households, and local stores, which is where we can have an interesting mix of colours between the waste streams. We are currently looking at new ways we can increase our storage capacity, and scale-up our production process to intercept more waste, and we hope to use the Kickstarter funds to achieve this.” mentioned Tom Meades.