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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Australia-based Hero Packaging produces a range of mailing packages called Heropacks, which are 100% compostable at homes or landfills.
Although efficient, recycling is not a viable solution to environmental conservation. An estimated 90% of plastics and food scraps are dumped in landfills, where they degrade to produce methane, a widespread greenhouse gas. With their mailers, Hero Packaging offers an alternative to plastics which breaks down naturally through composting, leaving no waste behind.
Heropacks are manufactured using 30-40% corn starch and cassava roots. Biobased agent polybutylene adipate terephthalate is added to bind the material together. The mailer bags are certified compostable by the AS5810 and AS4736 certifications by Australasian Bioplastics, Australia (ABA). They are also certified by EN13432. The supply chain is in compliance with ISO 14001 standards.
The mailers are home compostable in 90 days, the only requirement is for them to be cut up in small pieces. In landfills, Heropacks break down in 2 years, with zero waste and methane remnants.
Heropacks are available in black, pink and white colours and in four different sizes of small, medium, large and extra-large. They can also be customised according to brand requirements.
The mailers can be ordered through the official Hero Packaging website, and are currently available in Australia.