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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Technology and psychology network to reduce plastic waste
MY ECO is a sustainability network that uses technology and psychology to measure and increase consumer reuse behavior.
My Eco combines technology and psychology through a web platform, mobile app, email marketing channel and social media to provide engaging services for consumers and secure transactions for retailers.
The process begins with education and helping each person understand their contribution to the 100 billion bag problem. Then they provide tools (technology and products) to help consumers change their habits and move to reuse. Shoppers can also join groups because people are twice as likely to succeed at change if they have the support of others. Their mobile app reminds shoppers to take their bags into the store and alters them again at the store to get them out of the car! Rewards are provided to encourage reuse shopping.
MY ECO's partnership with Shaw's in Massachusetts and Rhode Island enables consumers to track their reuse, collect reuse points and then select a reward or donate to a local charity. MY ECO has been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Talk, Modern Family and covered in national press including USA Today. It provides the tools and the engagement to make change possible.
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Monclair, New Jersey, USA
Stage of Development
In Market TRL 9
Value Chain Impact
Reduce / Reuse
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