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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Mi Terro manufactures sustainable fashion items by processing excess milk from dairy farms into biodegradable milk fibers.
Globally, an estimated 128 million tonnes of milk is dumped each year. This leads to a large amount of dairy waste, which could otherwise be efficiently used. Mi Terro aims to reduce global dairy waste by using excess milk from dairy farms to produce fibers to be used for sustainable fashion.
The milk fibers are generated through upcycling the excess milk. The milk-to-clothing process takes about two months, and is carried out as follows:
Excess milk is procured from the dairy farm partners
The milk is skimmed to remove fats and then dewatered to produce a powder
The powder is purified to eliminate non-casein elements
The protein, Casein, once isolated is immersed in an alkali solution
The solution solidifies the protein into fibers
The fibers are then stretched and spun into a yarn.
The resultant yarn can be used to manufacture fashion items. The fabric is 3 times softer than cotton and dries faster.
The fabric has a number of additional features like:
Every 5 shirts produced by Mi Terro saves 1 glass of milk from going to waste. Additionally, Mi Terro, in partnership with the Eden Reforestation Project, plants 10 trees for each product sold.
Mi Terro aims to partner with supermarkets in the near future to collect excess or expired milk for sustainable fashion production.
Available in various designs and colors, the Mi Terro shirts can be bought through the official website. Customers can also purchase the Mi Terro travel bag made from cork and ocean plastics.
Robert is an alumnus of the University of Southern California. He is a Forbes Under 30 Summit Scholar and a Myers Writing Enhancement Award Finalist. He is the CEO of technology app Reo2. He is the CEO at Mi Terro.