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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Nanollose Ltd is an Australia based biotechnology research and development company whose plant-free cellulose could reduce cutting of trees for paper, or land used to cultivate cotton, flax and timber.
They have developed innovative, proprietary technologies, wherein the organic wastes from agriculture, food or industries is treated with microbes through fermentation to give nanocellulose. This can be used to make fabrics, paper, packaging, with applications in horticulture, hygiene etc. By producing cellulose from sources other than trees and plants they provide an environmentally friendly and sustainable material. If agriculture is not needed to grow this cellulose, the pollution from agriculture is stopped.
This is a closed loop system as it is produced from waste and can be later recycled to make the same material again and again. Recently it has produced rayon from coconut wastes, and is aiming to tackle biomass waste from the beer, wine and liquid food industries and turn them into fibres.
Nanollose Ltd which was started by Gary Cass is based in Perth. It has been listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, and is attracting attention in Australian and international press like Bloomberg and Crunchbase.
The company announced a Cooperation Agreement with Codi International BV, a global leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of high-quality personal care wipes. Both companies will exclusively work together in developing commercially viable consumer wipe products using Nanollose’s TreeFree nonwoven fibre.
Alfie Germano is CEO and Managing Director at Nanollose Ltd since 2017. He is a 30 year veteran in the global textile industry sector, having worked for Carters, Gap (2 years), Fila (7 years), VF Corportaions (6 years) etc.