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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Asphalt has not changed much for more than a century. On the other hand there are problems of urban flooding, plastic waste and traffic congestion. KWS is solving these problems with one solution by using recycled plastic waste to make a new kind of a road, in collaboration with Wavin Group and Total.
PlasticRoad is made of recycled plastic. These are prefabricated elements which have a hollow space. These hollow spaces can be used for laying pipes or cables; and the road can be heated and used for generating energy.
The hollow spaces can temporarily hold water and allow for drainage of the water into the soil reducing road flooding, and improving traffic safety. The advantages of the PlasticRoad is that the plastic road elements are 4 times lighter than asphalt of the same area, so transporting requires less heavy vehicles reducing carbon emissions.
Since they are prefabricated, road construction time is cut by 70%, making it a cheaper process. These roads are expected to last 2-3 times longer than the asphalt roads. The roads are nearly impervious to weather and weeds. In case of damage, the affected elements can be removed and recycled again to make new road elements.
This makes maintenance easy, and the whole process is completely circular. The pilot project: the first recycled plastic bike path was inaugurated in September 2018 in Zwolle (The Netherlands).
Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma are the inventors of PlasticRoad that is based in Vianen, Netherlands. The project has already generated a lot of interest in the press.
Anne Koudstaal is 28 years old and the co-founder of PlasticRoad. He is also an advisor and business development at KWS. He is a young leader who saw that plastic offers many advantages over the traditional road construction and together with Simon Jorritsma, they came up with the idea of plastic roads.