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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Sustainable fashion company Greenstain produces eco-friendly apparel made using recycled plastic bottles. Launched in 2018, Greenstain aims to bring sustainability to the fashion industry, to tackle the issue of textile waste and pollution.
Greenstain shirts are printed using water-based ink instead of plastisol ink, making them more nature-friendly. In partnership with manufacturer Allmade, tri-blend shirts are produced using US-grown cotton, recycled polyester and TENCEL. The recycled polyester is sourced from plastic waste bottles while TENCEL is manufactured using cellulosic wood pulp, making the overall fabric eco-friendly.
For every 100 shirts manufactured by Greenstain, 600 plastic bottles are recycled in the fabric. Compared to traditional apparels, the company claim that the production of 100 Greenstain shirts saves nearly 185000 litres of water and reduces nearly 15000gms of chemicals and 18000gms of crude oil. Every 100 shirts also provide a day's wage for workers in Haiti consequently providing a better living standard for their families.
Greenstain has also partnered with NGO One Tree Planted to contribute towards reforestation. A part of Greensrain's profits goes to One Tree Planted, which goes towards planting trees in California. Greenstain aims to plant over 2000 trees in California this year to help the forests recover from 2018 wildfires.
Since its inception, Greenstain has planted 200 trees, recycled 2450 plastic bottles and saved nearly 72000 litres of water.
Greenstain's mission is to spark a conversation on sustainable living using sustainable fashion as a catalyst. They wish to expand to sustainable coffee and more apparel options.
Greenstain shirts are shipped internationally and can be shopped from the official website.