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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The technique of using carbon from the air came from Princeton University and Northwestern University in 2003. Newlight claims to be the first in the world to commercialize this technology, and have acquired a patent for it. Carbon sequestration is used to producing a thermoplastic that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and is cost effectively as its raw material is free.
Newlight Technologies is solving two pressing environment problems with its product: rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as land and ocean pollution due to fossil-based plastics.
They use a biotechnological process to combine air and biogas (or methane based carbon) to produce a new plastic called AirCarbon. The company aims to produce their plastic on a global level to get rid of conventional plastic and believe sufficient market-driven demands can help in reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Newlight’s clients and partners are global brands such as Dell, Sprint, Virgin, KI, HP, and The Body Shop.
The company was started in 2003 by Mark Herrema and Kenton Kimmel. Newlight was awarded "Innovation of the Year" by Popular Science (2014), "Technology Pioneer" by the World Economic Forum (2015), "Technology Excellence Award" by PC Magazine (2014), "Company of the Year" by CleanTech OC (2014), "Biomaterial of the Year" by the Nova-Institute (2013), and an R&D 100 Awards as "one of the 100 most significant innovations of the year" in 2013. AirCarbon has been reported by the CNN and CBS.