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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IncrEdible is a brand of edible spoons manufactured and sold by Planeteer LLC, a startup based in California, USA. The FDA-approved spoons come in eight flavors and are available in the US and Europe.
Plastic spoons in the food services industry are used just once and end up in landfills and oceans as non-biodegradable waste.
IncrEdible spoons can be eaten and do not create any waste. They are made from natural ingredients such as wheat flour, oat flour, barley flour, corn flour, chickpea, soy flour and water. The ingredients do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The spoons are available in table size and dessert size, and stay firm for 25 minutes in hot soup and for 45 minutes in cold desserts. They have a shelf life of one year in low-humidity conditions.
The company has sold one million spoons since sales launched in February 2019. The spoons are available in stores in the states of California, New York, Colorado, Mississippi, Hawaii, and in Canada. They are sold as an add-on in over 30 dessert and soup shops and the company is working to introduce the spoons in ice cream shops of three large corporations in the United States. The factory is based India and the company is innovating in new machinery that is 90% automated to reduce the costs, in order to be able to start selling across the world. Planteer plants 250 trees for every 100,000 spoons sold to compensate the CO2 offset due to freight and shipping.
The spoons are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and comply with World Health Organisation’s Good Manufacturing Practices.
The company has won awards at the 2019 SKS Startup competition and the 2020 Front Burner Foodservice Pitchcompetition.
Planeteer plans to add new flavours, make edible straws and coffee stirrers, and develop a gluten-free recipe. The company is evaluating options to expand to other countries and invest about USD 1 million in automating manufacturing facilities.
Dinesh has a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. Before founding Planteer LLC, Dinesh worked as a design engineer for Marvell Semiconductor, SanDisk, Altera and Intel Corporation.