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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Kabadiwalla Connect helps integrate informal stakeholders into the formal waste-collection and recycling supply chain.
The recovery of post-consumer waste in cities in the developing world is driven by the informal ecosystem. However, municipalities, multi-national brands and waste management companies struggle to work effectively with informal stakeholders — despite increasing evidence to the commercial, environmental and social benefits of forming mutually beneficial partnerships.
Through a unique business process and award-winning technology, Kabadiwalla Connect integrates the informal ecosystem into the reverse-logistics supply chain; helping municipalities, brands and waste management companies recover post-consumer waste efficiently and more inclusively in the developing world.
They offer two types of solutions that help with informal sector integration:
Technology solutions that help clients recover post-consumer waste cost-effectively by leveraging the informal sector.
Solutions that help informal stakeholders create more value from the materials that they source back from the city.
Siddharth Hande is a spatial data analyst by training, interested in social entrepreneurship, technology, urban planning, informality and the circular economy in the developing world. Prior to Kabadiwalla Connect, he worked as a consultant in some of India's premier urban policy and research think tanks, including the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability at IIT-Madras, The Indian Institute for Human Settlements and the Institute for Financial Management and Research.