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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Re>Pal is an Australian company, with its main factory in East Java, Indonesia. The company uses its proprietary ThermoFusion™ technology to transform the various plastic waste into pallets.
Indonesia generated 3.2 million tonnes of plastic in 2010, 50% of which ended up in the oceans. In Bali, only 4% plastic waste is recycled.
ThermoFusion™ technology enables the conversion of salvaged mixed plastic waste into a malleable dough. The process does not require grading and sorting the waste. The dough undergoes compression moulding and is then converted into pallets.
Re>Pal can process waste plastics such as polypropylene (PP), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and can also handle multi-material flexible packagings (MLP). The factory does not process polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
The company produces 10 different types of pallets in four categories: nestable, nestable stackable, rackable and heavy-duty. The products are available across South-East Asian and Australian regions.
Re>Pal also offers a Take>Back scheme that allows customers to return end-of-life pallets, and receive credits that can be used in the next pallet purchase. The company claims that its recycled plastic pallets are more durable than conventional pallets that are made of wood, and offer better lifetime value over virgin plastic pallets.
The pallets are certified ISO8611 by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).
Re>Pal has been working with various clients and in 2019, they entered a partnership with dairy producer Danone to recycle plastic labels from water bottles sold by Danone-Aqua. Re>Pal will supply pallets back to Danone containing 25% of the label waste. In December 2019, the company also entered a partnership with NestleIndonesia to supply pallets to its factories in the country.
The company won the 2020 ‘best SME’ category award at the Sustainable Business Awards Indonesia.