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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Project STOP partners with cities and local government to build resilient and economically sustainable waste systems that eliminate leakage of plastics into the environment and ocean.
Nearly 80% of plastic waste in aquatic ecosystems comes from land sources. About 50% of this comes from emerging countries like Indonesia, China, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Project STOP aims to assist countries like Indonesia who have pledged to reduce the country ocean levels by 70% by 2025. This is to be done by helping establish an effective waste management system in the country.
Launched in 2017, Project STOP is an initiative co-founded by Borealis and SYSTEMIQ that designs, implements, and scales circular economy solutions to prevent plastic pollution in Southeast Asia. Project STOP supports cities with experienced waste management, plastic recycling, organic waste management, community engagement, behavior change and program governance experts. The team works in a simple system:
Scoping: Assessing cities for ocean pollution and government involvement.
Preparation & Design: Stakeholder agreements to build an effective waste management system.
Implementation: Equip the community to operate the waste management system economically.
Scale Up: Expanding to new regions to establish change.
Working with companies, local governments and community groups, Project STOP also aims to create new jobs in waste management and reduce the harmful impact of mismanaged waste on public health, tourism and fisheries. Project STOP’s long-term ambition is to establish new solutions and models that can be rapidly scaled-up across the whole plastics chain, from the uses of plastic to waste collection and recycling, in areas where there is need to improve the management of plastic waste.
Project STOP currently works in the coastal cities of Muncar in East Java, Lekok and Ngulign in Pasuruan in East Java, and Jembrana in northwest Bali. Along with co-founders SYSTEMIQ and Borealis, Project Stop’s strategic partners include the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nova Chemicals, Nestlé, Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Borouge.