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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Optoro is a cloud based platform which deals with collection, organization and movement of returned consumer products, either at retail stores or online. It aims to bridge the gap between vendors and secondary market catering to resale.
The annual fiscal loss to returns is estimated to be close to 360 billion dollars. As staggering as the figure might be, there is an immense gradient for growth in this relatively unexplored sector. Through optimizations within retail returns collection and handling processes, they have streamlined the entire reverse supply chain. Each returned item can now be specifically identified and dispatched to its destined place. The radical difference lies in the replacement of human identification with machine learning. This tasks a person with less of thinking and organizing to do. More products can hence be collected from stores and e-commerce and moved within warehouses with relative ease. Here are some clear advantages of such a module:
Better customer experience
Reduction in downstream supply chain costs
Revenue generation and increased product visibility
Feedback loop for partner organizations to monitor how their products moves through the market
Increased transparency by including trusted vendors throughout the chain
Reduction in production costs for industries
Easy to employ tools to enhance warehouse functions
Tailored module and guides to potentiate positive end-user workflow
Software which is handy and suited for changes a business might undergo, geographical or otherwise
Easy restocking with completely unopened and unused inventory
They are growing fast and have a host of partnerships with leading global companies and organizations. They have currently joined forces with Jet.com, Sennheiser, Best Buy, Staples, Target, Groupon, Under Armour, Massdrop to name a few. The outcomes observed have been extremely encouraging with an objective increase in returns and resale figures.
They have also received multiple awards off the back of their work:
Winner: 2019 Technology Fast 500™ awards
Winner: EY Entrepreneur Of The Year
Winner: Circular Economy Enterprise Award at the 2016 World Economic Forum
Winner: 2015 CNBC Disruptor50 Award
As far as environment is concerned, such a module can turn the retail economy green. Some projected figures given by the company are:
Diversion of roughly 3.9 million pounds of waste from landfills
Prevention of 22.7 million pounds of carbon emissions
Donation of 2.7 million items to charity
Optoro envisions and fulfils through everyday application, the concept of a circular retail economy. They are open to partnerships with interested retail brands and organizations.