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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Nexus Fuels, LLC, a waste management and energy production company that has developed a commercial process: the Nexus Technology.
The Nexus Technology converts difficult-to-recycle waste plastics (number 2,4,5 and 6) into Nexus Energy, a very high-grade fuel composed of a mixture of naptha (light hydrocarbon oil), gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and heavy oil/wax.
Through pyrolysis, Nexus technology uses thermal depolymerization to break long-chain hydrocarbons into smaller chains using heat. Nexus Fuels has perfected their technology to create a highly efficient system while providing Nexus Energy, a low-cost, environmentally friendly product for their customers. The technology is proven one-half CapEx, one-third labor costs, six times more energy-efficient, delivering higher yields of better quality end-products versus others. These factors result in a profitable business even at today’s lower oil prices – with economics based on market prices, without any reliance on incentives, grants, etc.
Nexus Fuels has built a commercial-scale plant in Atlanta Georgia which is currently in production. The future focus is building out a network of commercial plants worldwide to address the ever-growing amount of waste plastics currently heading to landfills or polluting the oceans.
Nexus Fuels has achieved a new partnership with Shell. Shell is concerned about the global plastic waste issue. In some places, waste management infrastructure and traditional recycling don’t exist, or plastic waste is not managed appropriately. As a result, plastic waste can end up as litter. Plastics should not be found in our oceans, riverways, beaches, forests, but rather in our homes and hospitals for utilization. This partnership is exploring process technologies that could transform post-use plastic into useful liquids for potential use as a source of energy, as chemicals or as new products. By using a liquid feedstock made from plastic waste in the Shell chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana, USA to make a range of chemicals. The liquid will be supplied by Nexus Fuels, is made from hard-to-recycle plastic waste via a specialized heating technique called pyrolysis.
Watch the following videos to learn more about this new partnership between Shell and Nexus Fuels by clicking the links below;
Jeff Gold founded Nexus Fuels in November 2015. He is as well the owner and president of Integrated Environmental Services that he founded 27 years ago. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Cornell University