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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GreenToGo is a reusable take-out container service that will reduce the amount of trash that goes to our landfills and improve quality of life for the Durham community. GreenToGo boxes are durable and long-lasting take-out containers which are 100% reusable.
Most people assume that when they throw a bag of trash into the dumpster, that it is on its way to the landfill. Durham's landfill was closed in 1994, and since then, all of their trash is dropped at a holding station.
A single GreenToGo box replaces, at minimum, 1,000 single-use boxes, which is better for the customer and the environment. Crystal Dreisbach, the founder of GreenToGo, decided to get rid of the Styrofoam and single use disposables. After getting Durham’s reuse and the waste reduction communities together, one of the ideas that came up was a reusable takeout container service.
The GreenToGo service uses a check-in and check-out system for boxes:
Each time one visits a GreenToGo restaurant, they use their GreenToGo mobile app to check out a clean box for takeout or leftovers.
They later return (and check in) the used box to a GreenToGo drop-off bin at any participating restaurant so it can be washed and sanitized in a commercial dishwasher, and then returned to the restaurants, ready for the next customer.
It costs $25 per year for a 1-box GreenToGo membership. The membership includes the GreenToGo mobile app for one's phone and a full year of GreenToGo check-out/check-in privileges at participating restaurants in Durham. If customers need more than one GreenToGo box at a time, there is a possibility to upgrade the membership to a 2, 3, or 4-box membership using the mobile app.
GreenToGo boxes are a product called Eco-Takeouts, made by G.E.T. Enterprises. They are made of very thick #5 plastic, and they are designed to last through thousands of washes in high-heat commercial dishwashers. They have been in use for many years in university dining halls across the country (including NCCU, UNC, NCSU, and Meredith College), and also in Portland and San Francisco in the GO Box program.
GreenToGo boxes are washed and sanitized in commercial dishwashers meeting health code standards. They follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which they developed in partnership with the Environmental Health Division of the Durham County Health Department.