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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Print Your City! explores the concept of applying 3D printing to plastic waste, as a way to re-design urban space.
The founders Foteini Setaki and Panos Sakkas of The New Raw, the studio who created this project, want to tackle the problem of city and marine plastic pollution, by upcycling and recycling using post-consumer waste.
Print Your City! transforms the plastic waste into meaningful applications for the built environment. They work to create closed loops for plastic and involve local communities in the shaping of their surroundings. It is a call for action, rallying citizens to recycle household plastic waste in order to transform it into raw material for public furniture, via a 3D printing process.
The creations are not just practical, but are pieces of art. The team says that the annual waste from every three residents should be enough to 3D print two big plastic benches for deployment in public places throughout the capital of The Netherlands.
In Amsterdam: the project "XXX" was the first prototype designed for the city. It was developed in collaboration with the AMS Institute.
In Thessaloniki, this project is part of the “Zero Waste Future” program developed by Coca-Cola in Greece.
The shape and size of the bench developed can be customized to meet specific needs, and businesses could also have logos or messages integrated into the design. And at the end of its useful life, the bench itself can be recycled – perhaps to make more street furniture.
The projects can be commissioned by clients or self-initiated, for the purpose of applying circular concepts for social and technological innovations.
As a result, they have been working with various institutions such as AMS Institute, Technical University of Delft, Coca-Cola Greece, Hong-Kong Design Institute, City of Amsterdam and others.
Foteini and Panos are also lecturers and head various circular design workshops around the world.