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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MIT Solve is a marketplace connecting innovators with resources to solve Global Challenges.
Every year, the world creates more than 2 billion tons of solid waste. Linear models of designing and producing clothing, plastics, electronics, and other goods have been led by high-income countries. Yet, the resulting climate change will drive more intense droughts, floods, and heatwaves everywhere, particularly in countries with the fewest resources to adapt. For everyone’s benefit, the world’s supply chains and the hundreds of millions of people employed by them need to shift towards a circular approach that targets zero waste and minimal impacts.
Building a circular economy will require changes in product design and business approaches that have ripple effects throughout supply chains and economic systems.
To shift towards circular supply chains where the goods we use are zero waste with minimal impacts, Solve is seeking solutions that enable:
Increased and equitable production of renewable and recyclable raw materials for products and packaging;
Design and production of mass-market clothing and apparel that are recycled and recyclable or biodegradable at end of life;
New business models that encourage extending the lifetime of products rather than frequent purchases; and
Recycling of complex products like electronics.
All solutions selected for Solve’s four current Global Challenges will receive a $10,000 grant funded by Solve.
In addition to Solve funding, Solver teams who also fulfill the following criteria are eligible for additional prizes and partnerships. You do not need to meet these requirements to apply to the Circular Economy Challenge:
AI Innovations Prize
Solutions that are propelled by advanced computing techniques or that leverage artificial intelligence to address the Challenge are eligible for the AI Innovations Prize. This prize is made possible by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that bets early on people who will make our world better — helping people to achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and by working together across fields. Up to $200,000 will be granted across several recipients selected for the prize. Eligible Solver teams may be selected from any of Solve's four current Solve's four current Global Challenges.
Deadline to submit a solution: July 01, 2019 - 5:00PM EST
Final Revisions Due by July 22, 2019 - 9:00am EST
Solve Challenge Finals: September 22, 2019
Solver teams will be selected by a panel of cross-sector judges at Solve Challenge Finals during UN General Assembly week in New York City.
If you would like to know more and submit a solution you can connect HERE