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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Founded in 2003, Ashortwalk is an award-winning eco product design company on the north coast of Cornwall in the UK. All Ashortwalk products are made from waste materials, designed to last and are 100% recyclable when they reach their end of life.
Ashortwalk values are rooted in closed loop design that sees today’s waste as tomorrow’s product. Ranging from redundant plant pots and coffee cups to seemingly useless things like car bumpers, plastic bottles and yoghurt pots; They turn them into fantastic and durable products like house signs, tide clocks and travel mugs for you to use. Because it isn’t truly recycled until it’s reused.
In the case of the coffee cups, the main challenge to date has been the plastic film lining the paper cups, which means they are rarely recyclable. But now working with their partners Nextek and Simply Cups, Ashortwalk team has been able to recycle and shred the whole coffee cup and using the strong cellulose fibres of the cup, they can bond it with a special resin. This resin is mixed with recycled plastic to create a new material which can be manufactured into a range of new products, from pencils to tables and chairs.
Cups are already being collected and processed and Ashortwalk has started to manufacture new products made from cups for companies such as Prêt a Manger and McDonalds.
Their flagship product is the rCUP: a reusable coffee cup that has been developed with a team of recycling experts who set out on a mission to create the best reusable cup on the market today.
The rCUP can be bought through its website or Ashortwalk's partners.
Some other of their creations include:
ECOPOTS: an innovative and exciting brand in flower pots and planters made from recycled plastics.