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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MK Aromatics is an Indian company that designs, builds and operates facilities that recycle plastic laminate waste intofuel oil.
The company uses pyrolysis technology developed by Harita NTI Limited. Post-industrial and post-consumer plastic waste is heated and condensed into crude oil. The waste does not need to be clean.
The crude oil is processed through downstream distillation into products such as aromatic solvents, aliphatic solvents, waxes and Carbon. It also makes solvents as per customer specifications.
The company has produced over four million liters of crude oil from 6,000 tons of waste. This is equivalent to a reduction of 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The company has a partnership with Unilever to processes multi-layer sachet waste from its products. Unilever also buys back the oil produced in the process.
The company is working on a system to collectwaste hygienically from sources in India in the company’s collection containers, which can be placed at the source of the waste. The company will arrange to transport sealed containers to its plant in Tamil Nadu in southern India.
The company has licensed agreement with Shell to operate a zero-emission refinery based on IH2 Technology, with an operating capacity of 3000 tons per day.
The company provides services to industries and city governments to set up plastic waste-to-energy plants and produce fuel oils for captive consumption, or to fulfill Corporate Social Responsibility obligations. The company also supports a non-profit, Samriddhi Foundation, which raises awareness in neighborhoods on plastic waste.
It has worked with the Government of Bhutan, government of the Indian states of Goa, Karnataka and Mizoram, and set up two facilities in Thailand.