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 Plastic Projectis a Dutch enterprise and an in-house startup of Better Future Factory. Better Future Factory is a multidisciplinary team of sustainable entrepreneurs, engineers, storytellers, architects, marketers, business analysts, and product designers.
Perpetual Plastic Project is a mobile interactive model that can be used as an educational tool to create awareness among people about plastic waste, and the ways to recycle them to make products.
It is a set of simple machines to shred post-consumer plastic and extrude new plastic filaments that can be used in 3D printing. These are prototypes and not industrial level machines. The various steps in their process are:
Cleaning and drying the post-use disposable plastics,
Shredding the plastic into small pieces,
Extruding the plastic into filament,
3D printing of new products. The mobile installation is modular in construction so it can be easily transported. It can be hired for events, festivals or other occasions to get the visitors involved.
This is meant to be an interactive project, where everybody can operate the machines themselves by hand and print 3D objects; it is suitable and easy enough for use by adults as well as kids. People have used this interactive model extensively in Europe. In addition, the project has been shown in USA, Angola, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. Their clients, who have used this project, include international household names like Philips, Heineken, Shell, etc.
Casper van der Meer is a co-founder and the CEO of the Better Future Factory’s that started the project in 2012 and is based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Perpetual Plastic Project has been widely covered in technical magazines especially those with a focus on 3D printing.