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.
Thank you for your interest in Ubuntoo. We’re excited that you’re here! You will need premium membership with us to access this GreenHouse. To continue, please upgrade your membership.To continue, you’ll need an account with us.
P4SB, which stands for Plastic Waste to Plastic Value using Pseudomonas putidaSynthetic Biology, is a project developing a process to convert petroleum-based plastics into biodegradable plastics. The project is funded by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 program.
Nearly 275 million tons of plastic waste were generated globally in 2010, and the number increases every year. This waste would take several centuries to get biodegraded. There is a need to develop a method to degrade plastic waste flow into recyclable materials.
The partnership aims to achieve the goal of plastic up-cycling through four major parallel research lines which together span the process from plastic depolymerisation, via the microbial metabolism of the plastic monomers, to the production of the bioplastic PHA and its subsequent purification. The project aims to use synthetic biology techniques to degrade PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and PU (polyurethane) plastics. It will use whole-cell bacterial catalysts to make enzymes that can break down the plastics into monomers such as terephthalate and ethylene glycol. The catalysts will also be used to design cell factories ofPseudomonas putida, a form of bacteria.
These monomers will be fed as a carbon source to Pseudomonas putida, which would metabolise the monomers into polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHA, a form of biodegradable plastic.
The team is currently working to improve the energy efficiency of the process. The process of using PET monomers as a carbon source for PHA is being tested.
The project aims to generate value out of plastic waste streams and also support industry partners, including small and medium enterprises, in the value chain.
P4SB aims to help raise the recycling rates of PET plastic from 30% to 50% and of PU from 5% to 70%, in line with European Union targets.
It intends to promote the use of PHA as a bio-polyester in the textile industry, and as mulch foils.
The project is coordinated by the RWTH Aachen University in Germany and received €7 million in funding in 2015. The partners include Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, UniversityofSurrey, BacMine, Bioplastech, among others.