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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HERU is a hybrid boiler running on the fuel it produced from the resources placed with in. The patented, micro-scale Home Energy Resources Unit (HERU) provides a solution to avoid "waste" and create energy. What was previously described as “waste”, now HERU allows this material to be a valuable resource.
It is designed for home and commercial use for restaurants, adult care facilities, children’s nurseries, hotels, etc. with a 240-litre capacity. It gives the power to keep most of the waste items as a resource by using them to fuel the boiler. The process uses controllable and leading-edge heat pipe technology, enabling a highly efficient, low temperature pyrolysis process to take place, creating outputs that are used to fuel the facility. The small amounts of emissions are cleaned before being released to air and sewer without posing risk of harm to human health or the environment.
The HERU is a hybrid boiler, meaning it is capable of running on oil or gas as well to ensure, that when there is nothing in the home to process, it reverts to conventional fuel sources. A brand-new approach to reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and avoiding the generation of domestic & facilities waste, on a global scale, has long been needed. With the ground-breaking technology behind this concept, there are many benefits the HERU can provide:
It enables every facility to become a micro energy generation centre generating hot water from the everyday items there was previously little option but to discard as waste. This reduces the household fuel bill by up to 15% helping address fuel poverty.
It is easy to install, with the HERU only requiring a conventional 13-amp domestic plug, sewer and water pipe connection, with the installation engineer retrofitting the boiler to work in harmony with the HERU.
It has a maximum working temperature of 300 °C which is similar to a standard oven.
It empowers the facility owner to avoid discarding items, continuing instead to keep them as a resource. This reduces the amount of waste created meaning local authorities would need less waste infrastructure and less collection rounds. The pollution associated with both of these would be minimised.
It is extremely energy efficient, generating an average of 2.5 kWh of energy for every 1 kWh required to power the unit. Lastly, it reduces reliance on fossil fuels to provide heating.
Nik Spencer is an entrepreneur and founder of a number of successful start-ups, many within the recycling and resource management sector. The HERU is his latest invention in a lifetime’s quest to divert material from landfill and continue to find better ways to manage resources.