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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Luft Parcel is a reusable parcel for e-commerce packages that consumers can conveniently return to retailers.
Nearly 270 million persons in Europe regularly shop online. But goods are delivered in single-use packages that get discarded within 48 hours of use. Each package contains plastic bags and bubble wraps.
Luft Parcel is an inflatable parcel that can be returned by the consumer. The parcel, which uses a patented design, can be deflated and folded into a compact size that consumers can conveniently post back to the retailer. Consumers pay a deposit for the parcel while placing their orders. The deposit is returned when the parcel is sent back.
The parcel can be used up to 30 times, according to the company. As a result, each parcel saves the water, energy and resources used in multiple conventional packages. Being an inflatable parcel, it also avoids the use of plastic bubble wrap to protect contents.
Once the parcel cannot be reused, the retailer sends it for recycling. This ensures that the material is recycled and not discarded.
Luft Parcel is looking for retailer partners to pilot the solution. The company is also seeking partnerships with brands in the UK’s domestic detergent market to deliver cleaning products using the inflatable parcel.
Luft Parcel was a finalist at European Social Innovation Competition 2019. It was selected in the Plastic Circular Economy Pitchfest, April 2019, of the UK Circular Plastics Network. In November 2018 it was nominated for the Murgitroyd.com - Innovator Launchpad Award.