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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My Little Plastic Footprint is an app that educates users about their plastic footprint and helps them reduce their plastic consumption through statistics and personalised challenges. The app was developed by The Plastic Soup Foundation, an NGO working to ensure no plastic enters water bodies and its partners – EA, Smäll and the Ocean Recovery Alliance.
Plastic is ubiquitous and only 9% is ever recycled. Of all the plastic in use every day, 50% are thrown within 20 minutes. Out of all the plastic that ends up in the water, 94% will eventually sink to the bottom of the sea, where it ends up eaten by plankton, fish and other animals. According to the Ellen Mc Arthur Foundation, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050. The app helps users beat plastic pollution by educating them about the issue and guiding them to eliminate plastic use.
While there are apps that allow users to track their plastic usage, the My Little Plastic Footprint goes a step further. It encourages users to go zero-waste and helps them track their progress over time. The improved My Little Plastic Footprint app helps you reduce the amount of plastic in your everyday life by giving users ideas and challenges. Users can work out the real-life challenges of avoiding plastic with the help of tips and questions that the app provides.
The plastic diet revolves around tackling the concerns about plastic affecting human health, avoiding leakage of plastic into the environment and aiming for an absolute reduction of plastic production. The app provides you with more than 100 tips to reduce your plastic consumption or to replace a plastic item with a sustainable alternative. To calculate your plastic footprint, My Little Plastic Footprint created the Plastic Mass Index (PMI). The PMI calculates users contribution to plastic pollution. The closer a PMI is to zero, the less one contributes; the closer a PMI gets to 100, the more one contributes. By going on a plastic diet, users will reduce their PMI.
The app launched its test version at the Ocean Summit during the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante, Spain, in October 2017. After a few improvements, the launch of the app took place in Nairobi, Kenya, during the United Nations Environment Assembly in December 2017.
The My Little Plastic Footprint app is available for free download on Android and iOS platforms.