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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Ministry of Waste is part of the Cambridge Social Ventures programme in the Cambridge Center for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School.
They connect polluted and disadvantaged communities in Asia with waste industry innovators and global leaders of sustainability. Less plastic in the ocean, brands acting responsibly and more revenue for local communities.
They set out to be a recycled ocean-bound/beach plastic material supplier for those who see value in the material and want to implement a strong social and environmental impact into their business and CSR strategy.
But once being on the ground it was obvious that so many of Indonesia's islands are struggling with waste management (due to many complicated indicators), therefore with local government support, we are venturing into innovative island waste management (where most material would be ocean-bound if not captured beforehand).
With their pilot project on Nusa Penida, just off the coast of Bali, they aim to make it the cleanest island in Indonesia with a waste management system which you can replicate across other Indonesian and Asia-Pacific islands.
Working with circular economy principles on each island and placing human-centred design at the heart of their activity, they make sure there is less plastic in the ocean, brands acting responsibly and more revenue for local communities.
They create a fair supply chain of recycled ocean-bound/ beach plastic and can supply recycled HDPE, LDPE, PP, PET, EVA, Textile and other materials.
Everyone, from educators, circular economy players, sustainable development promoters, beach cleaners, recyclers, corporates and many more play a crucial role for them to succeed.
Samantha is the current CEO and co-founder of ministry of waste London, she has experience in management of working in a multi-cultural environment with notable interpersonal skills. Areas of expertise include project coordination, recruitment, training and collaboration, world-wide brand awareness and social media marketing. As a person I have a very wide spectrum of interests and hobbies- ranging from manual tasks (renovation, DIY, woodwork, ceramics etc.) to start-ups, new technologies, business and environment (waste management, sustainability, circular economy).
Caroline is Country Manager for the Ministry of Waste, based in Hong Kong, As CSR Program Representative in Asia she is able to show corporations how to effect social change with their business beliefs, practices and profits. Being located in Hong Kong, Caroline is experiencing the diversity of the waste management issues - including the high coastal pollution - herself.