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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Nelplast Ghana Limited is a company that is turning waste into a cheap resource to provide a cost-effective solution to building roads in cities and villages.
Nelplast Ghana Limited takes all kinds of plastic wastes except PVC, which are collected from the neighbouring areas. This is then shredded into small pieces in their innovative recycling machine. 70% of plastic is mixed with 30% of sand, and with the use of a little binding material a stone is formed. This is strong as it has the properties of plastic, and cannot be dented or broken. They are expected to last longer than their cement or asphalt alternatives which are also expensive.
The company is not only solving problem of plastic waste, it is providing employment to many people in the area during the collection of waste, and production and installation of the blocks. Currently they produce only 200 blocks a day using 800 kilos of plastic waste and employ 60 workers directly, and 230 people if indirect employment is considered. The product and the process have attracted considerable interest in Ghana and the world.
The company is now trying to find ways to scale its production up to meet national demand. The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana also supports the product and process.
The company has been created in 2017 in the Ghanaian city of Ashaiman by the engineer Nelson Boateng, who developed the recycling machine. The project has been reported by Inhabitant and World Economic Forum.
Nelson Boateng is a self motivated and result driven individual. He is a good communicator with ability to influence and drive continuous change in work output through team working. He is a quick learner with skills enabling him to work with a team. He has a strong aptitude for innovation with the willingness to take up new challenges. He holds a diploma in Networking Engineerig and other certificates from professional courses with recognized institutions.