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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Futamura is a global leader in producing cellulose, including Cellophane, renewable and compostable NatureFlex, casings and non-wovens.
NatureFlex™ is a range of speciality packaging films developed to offer packaging material options that give strong environmental support towards increasing consumer demand for more environmentally responsible packaging. These bio-films are based strongly on renewable resources (wood-pulp from managed plantations) and are certified to the European (EN13432) and American (ASTM D6400) norms for Industrially compostable packaging.
In addition, the majority of grades have been certified by TÜV Austria to the OK Compost Home standard for home composting and certain grades have been proven to biodegrade in a waste-water environment. Further, testing has proven that most NatureFlex™ grades are also suitable for anaerobic digestion.
To further support the positioning of NatureFlex™, a peer reviewed LCA has been carried out by Thinkstep, based on their GaBi software, allowing transparent communication of the environmental impacts of using these films.
NatureFlex™ films use novel heat seal-resins on each side. They are static free and offer a super wide heat seal range for outstanding machine performance. The films offer good gas barrier properties and the coatings can be tailored to provide varying degrees of moisture barrier, depending on the needs of the wrapped product.
The company was started in 1950 by Yasuo Nagae and has production centers in Japan, USA and UK, employing more than 1500 people.