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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PILI is tackling one of the most polluting industry: the dyeing industry.
Today, the color industry is unsustainable with 99% of all dyes made using petrochemistry, while colors from plants and animals are not scalable. A revolution is growing regarding the way we produce, use and recycle products. This new era will be ruled by enzymes and microorganisms, microscopic systems that can produce a wide variety of renewable materials at large scale.
PILI is focused on the biofabrication of a wide range of colors produced by microorganisms as an alternative to the petrochemical versions (non-renewable, toxic to work with..) and without the drawbacks of the vegetable ones (non scalable, expensive, dependent on weather..).
Through biotechnology, PILI conjugates the performance of the chemical industry with the renewability of biology to cope with the challenges of a clean color production, without petrochemistry.
This technology has been used for ages, mostly in the food industry through fermentation (beer, bread, cheese, chocolate, vinegar..) and more recently in health care, where engineered microorganisms produce pharmaceutical molecules (such as insulin), these champions now show up again in the production of smart and renewable materials.
A lot of industrial sectors have been waiting for such a product, and they are now cooperating with them, eager to use their living colors, from textile to cosmetic factories, in order to develop the future of colors in which they can already predict that affordable and sustainable products will lead the way.
The team at PILI is composed of successful scientists and engineers, experts in the fields of synthetic biology, bio-production, chemistry and design. They are now working in two French-based laboratories : at Toulouse White Biotechnologies (South of France), where they bio-engineer their microorganisms, and Le CNAM in Paris, where they develop green extraction methodologies and test the properties of the bio-dyes.