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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‘Original Unverpackt’in German translates to Original Unpacked in English. This is the first store of its kind that was set-up in Berlin, Germany. The supermarket was started in 2014, and at present they carry around 600 products, which include food, sweets, spirits, cosmetics, detergents, books, containers for transport and the kitchen at home.
The planning for the shop was started in Nov 2012 by Milena Glimovski and the team. They drew up the business plan and obtained the financing. In addition, a supplier network with no packing had to be set as well. Since 2016, the shop also carries non-food items and delivery of goods is made for people who are far away.
The group has also started the OU magazine to inform its readers on a sustainable lifestyle and environment protection. By bringing their containers they make customers aware of the plastic packaging problem. In addition, they hope to make large suppliers reconsider the packaging they use.
Milena Glimovski remains the leader of the team. They have been reported by 6 German Radio Channels, 11 German and 8 international press agencies like The Guardian, New York Times, and Huffington Post.