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 Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Materials Sustainability (PARMS) is a multi-stakeholder coalition consisting of members across the waste management value chain; from corporations, retailers, industry groups, haulers, converters, junkshops, MRFs, civil service organizations, academic, and government agencies. PARMS is premised on developing and implementing a holistic and comprehensive program to increase resource recovery and reduce landfill dependence, leading towards a zero waste Philippines.
It is estimated that Filipinos throw out over 163 millions pieces of sachets daily, or 60 billion pieces of sachets a year, making these one of the biggest contributors to the plastic waste pollution in the Philippines. As a nation with one of the world's most largest coastlines the excessive use of plastic sachets has far-reaching consequences.
The PARM programs are founded on a comprehensive approach which includes a 5-component plan of an Information, Education, and Communications Campaign; the Recovery of residual waste from schools and communities; the collection of such waste; the Technical Assessment of the waste and the Market Development of the recycled products; and the Treatment Facility operation.
The Alliance has been awarded a space in La Huerta Materials Recovery Facility to serve as both a Plastics Recycling Facility and Research & Development Center. This is in partnership with Parañaque CENRO to accelerate the production of Green Antz Eco-bricks and Extruded Plastic Lumber.
PARMS has most recently committed with nine corporate partners (Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines; Liwayway Marketing Corporation; Monde Nissin Corp.; Nestlé Philippines Inc.; Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc.; Procter & Gamble Philippines; Unilever Philippines; Universal Robina Corporation; Vouno Trade and Marketing Corporation) to invest in a Php 25-M residual plastic recycling facility that will address the need to recycle flexible, low-value plastics such as sachets and turn them into plastic blocks and eco-bricks.