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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Plastic2Oil is a New York- based company that converts plastic waste intofuel oil using a proprietary technology.
Its technology aims to process plastic waste that is difficult to recycle and municipal waste that may be rejected by conventional recycling facilities.
In the company’s patent-pending process, waste is first liquified and passed through a solid-liquid separator. Then, in the main reactor, it is cracked into short hydrocarbon chains in the form of gas. The gas is condensed and diesel and fuel oil and separated from it. Lighter fractions in the gases like butane are captured and used in the heating process.
An average 86% of hydrocarbons in the plastic are captured by the process due to the company’s proprietarycatalyst. The processor removes residues in real time and does not have to be stopped for cooling down.
The fuel oil products include No. 6 heavy oil used in industrial boilers and ships, Naptha, and No. 2 Fuel that is used to make diesel and furnace oil.
The company’s waste processor can process unwashed, unsorted, composite and commingling plastic waste. Primarily, it runs on post-commercial and industrialplasticwaste, like automotive plastic, consumer plastic waste film and food containers.
The processor’s optimal feedstock includes High-Density and Polyethylene (HDPE), Low-Density and Polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP) and composites of the three types.
It does not accept Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), which can be optimally recycled in conventional processes, and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), as it contains low amount of hydrocarbons.
The company’s process has been validated by IsleChem. Its engineering process and economic value generation have been validated by SAIC.
It runs a facility in Niagara Falls, New York, which receives committed feedstock from suppliers. It can also license the technology to other companies. In 2018, it signed a 20-year agreement with Veridisyn Technologies.