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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Golden Compound GmbH was founded in 2014 as a 50:50 joint venture between SPC Sunflower Plastic Compound GmbH and Cargill. Since its foundation, the company has been intensively engaged in the development of materials with sunflower seed hulls. It was set up for the purpose of developing, producing and commercializing fiber-reinforced bioplastic compounds based on sunflower seeds.
Around 12 million tons of plastic material are processed every year only in Germany. However, fossil resources are limited. For this reason Golden Compound GmbH intend to avoid the use of mineral oil-based plastics wherever possible.
Each year around 30 million tons of sunflower seeds are produced worldwide. The hull share is about 20 %, that means 6 million tons. The company uses up to 70 % sunflower seed hulls as filling and reinforcing material for their compounds. The company collaborated with ALPLA to introduce HOMEcap; a home compostable capsule which is made up from the material Golden Compound green, an organically based material, with ground natural fibres from sunflower seed shells. A cellulose-based lid seals to the capsule without glue and is home compostable as well. The capsule is completely biodegradable in the garden compost within a maximum of six months, and is free from aluminium and genetically modified organisms. The capsule is “OK compost HOME” certified.It is made from a unique compound comprising PTTMCC’s PBS and PBSA mixed with sunflower seed shells and inorganic fillers.
Golden Compound is targeting markets, such as warehouse elements—crates, boxes—and the horticultural market—flower pots and gardening accessories—with its compounds.