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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Photanol develops a breakthrough technology to convert CO2 and sunlight into valuable organic compounds.
Everyday humans turn thousands of tonnes of irreplaceable oil into chemicals and energy plus carbon dioxide.
Photanol does it the other way round by turning carbon dioxide into green fuel and specialty chemicals using sunlight creating a cyclical sustainable chemical economy. 3.5 billion years ago a primitive strand of bacteria called cyanobacteria started using energy from sunlight to grow using up carbon dioxide. This is how photosynthesis was invented. After all those years cyanobacteria are still around in almost every environment including the canals in Photanol's Amsterdam lab plants.
Photanol's technology and patents are based on the genetic modification of cyanobacteria to produce a broad range of biochemicals. These bacteria are natural photosynthesizers, drawing energy from (abundant and free) sunlight and carbon from (abundant and problematic) CO2. The company is applying this technology in a number of markets, ranging from food ingredients to chemical bio-blocks and bio-fuels. Already, seventeen products can be produced in the lab by these cells.
A strategic choice made early on by Photanol was to aim for higher-value compounds and not focus on ethanol, which currently has a relatively low market price. their first three products will be organic acids for the production of polymers, among other things. And they may add terpenes, which have an even higher value.
So far, work has been done on laboratory scale and in the optimized pilot plant in Bleiswijk. However, Photanol is cooperating closely with Omega Green, a company that grows algae for food and feed and has already built a hectare-size production facility in Eemshaven. ‘We can use very similar techniques. The specific requirements of our bacteria have been tested in the lab and pilot, so we know the important parameters’ mentioned Photanol's CEO Véronique De Bruijn, who is confident they can grow their cells in a large-scale facility without major problems.
Cyanobacteria offer a simple, renewable pathway for chemical production, and has the potential to emerge as the sustainable production platform for next-generation clean chemicals. One of the chemicals they are looking at producing is lactic acid which could be converted to PLA.
The company has received investments from ICOS capital and UvA Holding.
Véronique is an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the renewable and environment industry, skilled in Venture Capital, Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Financial Modeling, and Financial Structuring. She is a business development professional graduated from RSM Erasmus University.