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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PerPETual Global Technologies looks at post-consumer plastic bottles as raw materials and not waste. They developed an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective process to reverse engineer consumer waste PET bottles into high quality (poly)ester.
This ester is an alternative to conventional esters made from PTA and MEG, both high carbon footprint petrochemicals. PerPetual use 2 million PET bottles, that are de-polymerised, by a low temperature process resulting in esters or building blocks in polymers.
These can be reassembled into the desired polyester by using the same equipment and comparable process conditions that have been established and used to make conventional petrochemicals. No additional chemicals or catalysts are used either. This method is superior to batch based recycling where quality is lost. Perpetual process is chemical based and produces good quality polyesters, and has received many certifications (OEKO-Tex, GRS IMS). Besides saving avoiding new petrochemical use, PerPETual claims that the new process reduces water consumption by 86%, and energy use by 75%.
The high-quality filament polyester yarns they produce are supplied to well-known international garment and textile companies. They are the only company in the world that produces all their yarn from 100% recycled material. Their customers include H&M, Adidas, Puma, C&A, Wildcraft, Decathlon, etc. The polyester produced by PerPETual's technology is also used to make resin which can be used in pre-forms and sheets, films, polyols, and engineering.
PerPETual Global Technologies have been recognized at Davos 2018 as one of the global leaders of the circular economy. They were finalists for Circulars Awards 2018 in the SME category.