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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Green Trails is an initiative by Indiahikes as an effort towards reducing their carbon and ecological footprint on their treks.
Trekking in the Himalayas has gained popularity and with that comes increasing litter. However, although the mountains have access to almost every product in the market, there is no infrastructure to handle the waste efficiently. In order to keep the mountains clean while improving tourism, Indiahikes began Green Trails.
Through their mission, Green Trails brings down tonnes of garbage which is then segregated and recycled into marketable products, generating revenues for locals. Some of the initiatives implemented are:
Distribute Ecobags to trekkers to clean-up garbage on the way
Segregate collected waste into recyclable, reusable and compostable
Upcycling waste with local communities
Alternative composting toilets
Biodigester units and composting organic waste
Conduct awareness programs for local villagers
Partnering with local governments to train and promote waste-free villages
Green Trails also conducts Outdoor Education Programs for students from India’s premier educational institutions. Since 2012, a credit based PGP course (Himalayan Mountain Challenge) is run for students of IIM (Indian Institute of Management) - Indore, Bangalore and Lucknow.