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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Norton Point is an eyewear brand based on the island of Martha's Vineyard, MA and was founded in 2015 with a goal to make sustainable sunglasses from ocean plastic and plant based materials.
Norton Point's team believe that the 8 million metric tons of plastic flowing into our oceans is one of our planet's greatest environmental challenges, and they have chosen to become part of the solution.
The company has developed the first line of eyewear made from recovered high-density-polyethylene (HDPE) ocean plastics. For every product sold Norton Point is committing to clean-up one pound of plastic from the ocean. The team has also chosen to give back 5% of net profits to global clean-up, education, and remediation practices.
Getting started was no easy task. Luckily they had the right past work and life experiences to navigate the various obstacles and attract key partners like The Plastic Bank. Finding ocean plastic and securing high-quality manufacturers was complicated. But they were able to find partners who were willing to take a risk on their dream and help them figure out how to make sunglasses from recovered ocean plastic.