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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Based in Toulouse, France; Plastic Vortex is a system that captures floating plastic waste from rivers using a device that does not use any electrical or fuel power.
Nearly 80% of the waste pollution in the oceans comes from urban pollution through rivers. Plastic Vortex aims to reduce such upstream pollution using a simple system that captures the waste floating down rivers.
The Plastic Vortex system consists of a floating platform connected with floating arms that make a V-shape. The system faces the downstream flow of a river. All floating waste is captured by the arms and directed towards the platform at the centre.
The waste is transferred to a tub by a conveyor belt, which is rotated by turbines that run on the river currents and not on electricity or fuel. The tub is carried to the shore using a hand-operated pulley.
The floating devices and arms are made of waste materials like plastic bottles.
The Plastic Vortex team visits the system, which is installed on the Garrone river, several times during the week depending on the weather conditions. They recover an average of thirty plastic bottles at each visit. The system which has so far collected 112 kilograms of floating waste including 1,083 plastic bottles.
The inventor is seeking €35,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to produce and deploy its second system in 2020. It is doing research to make the system more reliable and aims to deploy it on other rivers in the Occitanieregion and eventually in all of France.
Its partners include Orange Foundation, Dassault Systems, FAB14+, and Artilect.