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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Le Qara is a biotech company that manufactures leather from microorganisms. It was founded by three Peruvian women: Jacqueline Cruz, Isemar Cruz and María Pía Soto.
The conventional leather production involves slaughtering of one billion animals every year. Toxins and heavy metals, used for tanning also harm the environment. These things make the leather industry, the fourth worst polluting industry globally. Le Qara, is the exact solution that the industry needs.
The trio decided to create a new vegan, eco-friendly alternative to leather after witnessing the pollution of rivers in Peru caused due to the traditional leather production. The first prototype was made by Isemar (one of the co-founders). After several developments, the product can mimic the properties of animal leather.
Microorganisms derived from flowers and fruits are grown in a biotech lab in the same standard sizes as conventional leather. The process makes it possible to acquire any desired leather texture, color, toughness or thickness. The material is 100% biodegradable. The residues generated in the process can be used as a liquid compost, making it a zero waste solution.
Le Qara is one of the five winners of 2019 Global Change Award. The trio is the first Latin American group to win the prize, and they aim to implement larger samples and reach international customers.