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 waste management and energy production company nexus FUELS, LLC has developed a commercial-scale process called Nexus Technology, for converting waste plastics into feedstocks for plastics production and fuels.
The nexus technology converts several difficult-to-recycle waste plastics (HDPE #2, LDPE #4, PP #5, PS #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.
nexus technology uses thermal depolymerization (pyrolysis) to break long-chain hydrocarbons into smaller chains. nexus FUELS has perfected the technology to create a highly efficient and economic system providing low-cost, environmentally friendly products for our customers. The company claims that their process allows:
5 times better EROEI (Energy Returned over Energy Invested)
25% more liquid per ton, less char
Less than 1/4 of the Cost per ton of other Systems 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. It has supplied its pyrolysis liquid to Shell's chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana, USA where it was made into chemicals that are the raw materials for everyday items. Shell is working with multiple companies who collect and transform plastic waste in order to scale this solution to industrial and profitable quantities across its chemicals plants – in Asia, Europe and North America.
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. The liquid feedstock made from plastic waste in the Shell chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana, USA to make a range of chemicals.
Jeffrey 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