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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New Hope Ecotech is a technology and social impact company founded in Kellogg School of Management, USA. Their international team is passionate about technology and thrilled by the challenge of creating technologies for the recycling industry which can help improve the management of this sector and transparency of data in Latin America.
Since 2010, the Brazilian law known as National Solid Waste Policy (“Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos” in Portuguese, or simply PNRS) requires that consumer packaged goods manufacturers prove the correct destination of post-consumption packages. That goes from a simple bottle of shampoo to a computer at the end of its useful life. But it’s not about just obeying the law. More and more, Brazilian consumers expect the brand they buy to do the best when it comes to responsible performance. In large cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, each Brazilian produces an average of 1.2 kg of garbage per day and 41% of urban waste is discarded without being treated.
New Hope Ecotech is connecting the two ends of the chain: the industry and waste collectors' cooperatives using a data management software to ensure the companies that generate the waste pay collectors for the amount of waste they remove from the environment and return to the production process. Everything is recorded in an online system, which provides transparency in real time to the process. New Hope Ecotech guarantees that companies pay the collectors directly for the waste they collect, without intermediaries.
New Hope Ecotech has launched as well Eureciclo label to promote brands engaged with recycling and includes already 400 certified brands.