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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Start-up Grounded Upcycling diverts organic coffee waste from landfills by upcycling the used grounds to manufacture consumer products.
It is estimated that nearly 25% of all landfill waste is generated from organic waste streams. This waste emits large amounts of methane gas, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. With their business model, Grounded Upcycling aims to tackle this by repurposing certain organic byproducts into useful consumer goods.
The process to convert used coffee grounds is simple:
Collect separated used coffee grounds from coffee shop partners.
Process and dry the coffee grounds for decontamination.
The grounds are upcycled into eco-friendly products.
Excess coffee grounds are composted in local compost sites.
So far, Grounded Upcycling has diverted 598.5 pounds of coffee grounds from landfills and manufactured 750 upcycled coffee products.
Grounded Upcycling currently offers two main products:
Coffee Soap Bar
Exfoliating Coffee Face Mask
The brand also offers soil amendments and heating briquettes. The products can be purchased from the official website. The products are currently shipped across the USA.
Grounded Upcycling has partnered with coffee shop THiNK COFFEE. The start-up welcomes partnerships from local coffee shops.