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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Plastic Odyssey is a non-profit organization helping to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean while alleviating poverty by showing that plastic waste is a resource too valuable to enter the seas.
79% of plastic waste is accumulated in landfills or the natural environment causing water and soil contamination. At sea, plastic micro particles is responsible for the contamination of seafood. At the same time, the value of recyclable packaging material lost annually to the economy is estimated at USD 120 billion.
To achieve their goal, Plastic Odyssey will circumnavigate the globe for 3 years to promote plastic recycling on a boat partially powered by plastic waste turned into oil. This world premiere is made possible thanks to an innovative technology called plastic-to-fuel.
This is the first expedition around the world to reduce the plastic pollution in our oceans. They will set sail in 2020 and circumnavigate the globe for 3 years to collect waste plastic and promote recycling. Their vessel will be solely powered by eco-fuel made only out of plastic waste.
During their expedition that will take them to 33 main ports of call throughout Africa, Latin America & Asia, they will:
Organize cleanup sessions on the coasts and in nearby towns before and during the stay of the vessel.
Transform and demonstrate how to transform recyclable plastics into other materials such as building bricks and slabs…
Power the ship until the next stop with the remaining non-recyclable waste (stored onboard and converted to energy to power the boat’s engines, thanks to an onboard pyrolysis unit).
Rather than in-house development, they plan to crowdsource solutions through enthusiasts, academics, and start-ups. They also plan to make their technology are free of rights (open-source) and not patented. Finally, the innovations will be frugal (low-tech) and low cost to be easily reproducible and used by the greatest number.
Their current partners are:
Financial: Groupe Clarins, Crédit Agricole, Fondation Veolia, Fondation Bénéteau
Institutional: Explore, French Ministry of the Environment, 1% for the Planet, Darwin Foundation, Green Tech Verte
Their Official suppliers and service providers are Europcar, Torqeedo, ENSVN, Plastimo, Collectif VOUS
They have received media coverage from BFM TV, National Geographic, Le monde, Le Point, TF1, M6, France 2, France 3, Arte, Paris Match, Ouest France, Sciences et Avenir, Le Télégramme, France Info, France Inter, Europe 1, etc.
You can reach out to Benjamin Demolliens if you are interested in a partnership. They would love to have you aboard!