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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Zelij Invent is a startup that produces ecological flooring (Pavers, Tiles, Traditional Moroccan Zellige) based on a formula of 80% recycled plastic and other additives. Their products have the same characteristics of ordinary products and are more durable.
Their startup’s first product is “PAVECO” an eco-friendly paving stone. They can be used in all the same way as regular products in sidewalks, gardens and more, but use less energy and water in production, are cheaper to produce, aesthetically pleasing and more durable.
Their production process starts by collecting plastic waste from NGO’s, farmers and other suppliers of raw material. They then put the formula in special machines that transform the materials into a mixture ready to be moulded into different shapes and different colours.
The startup was founded with the help of Enactus, a global student entrepreneurship program, and now has support from Lafarge Holcim, a leading French Swiss Building materials player.