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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RecyclePoints is a Nigerian waste recycling and social benefit venture that motivates people to recycle by creating value from their everyday waste.
It is a common sight to see the streets, drainages, roadsides and even dumpsites packed with recyclable packaging materials which are carelessly disposed of by users. This practice often poses environmental hazards to communities as they experience flood due to the blockage of water drainages by most of these recyclables which has become the fastest growing packaging option in the beverage and food industry.
RecyclePoints chose Lagos State as a pilot location to develop a point-based incentive model with which they collect water sachets, PET plastic bottles, used beverage cans, glass bottles, old newspapers and brown corrugated cartons from registered post-consumers and in turn reward them with points, which when accrued can be used to redeem household items and cash.
The collected recyclables are further processed at the Collection and Sorting HUBs (CoSoHUB) and thereafter sold to manufacturing/recycling plants who use the items as raw materials for the production of a wide range of items, including but not limited to polyester fibre, carpets, hangers, pegs, aluminium ingots, craft papers for making carton etc.
Subscribers to the scheme are given Green Cards, on which collected and counted items are recorded. Recyclers get an SMS notification at the end of the week on the number of “Points” gained. Thereafter, the “Points” gained can be traded in exchange for equivalent tagged items available at the RecyclePoints “iRecycle Store”.
Redeemed items are collected from RecyclePoints' office or delivered to the Recycler directly on request. They also award bonus points for any environmentally friendly activity they promote or encourage.
The 4 recycling initiatives are the following:
iRecycle Network – targeted at individuals. Recyclable materials are exchanged for household items.
WastePicker Initiative – targeted at individuals. Recyclable materials are exchanged for cash.
Corporate Recycling – targeted at corporate establishments.
Schools Recycling – targeted at academic establishments.
RecyclePoints works in partnership with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in waste recycling and sanitation advocacy.
Chioma Angela Ukonu (Mrs.) is the Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer at RecyclePoints; which is Nigeria’s foremost waste recycling and social benefit venture that motivates post-consumers to recycle by creating value from their everyday waste.
She is a Certified Social Sector Manager and Social Entrepreneur with focus on environmental sustainability, poverty eradication, women empowerment, youth employment and community engagement.
Chioma is a member of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, a Mandela Washington Fellow, a Cherie Blair foundation Road to Growth alumni, a LEAP Africa Social Innovators Fellow, Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) alumni, a Chivas Venture global alumnus, an MITLegathum/Zambezi finalist and most recently, a LAUNCH Circular finalist.
She holds a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Industrial Physics (Electronics Option), a certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship from Drake University Des Moines Iowa USA, a certificate in Social Sector Management from the Pan Atlantic University.
She sought after her passion in Customer Relationship Management, Business Development and Operation with over eleven years of experience in the Telecoms, Banking and waste management sectors.
Chioma is a Nigerian, a wife, a mother of three lovely kids, result oriented and a resiliently hard working young lady. She stands for sustainable development, local content development and she is a firm believer of a better Africa; where Africans are integral to the solutions for Africa’s problems.
Mazi Ukonu, a Materials Engineer and Supply-Chain Manager, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Materials & Metallurgical Engineering. He earned an Executive Certificate in Technology, Operations and Value Chain Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management and has attended numerous MBA courses in Supply-Chain and Project Management. As a materials expert, he privately sought to build a viable model for waste recycling cum social enterprise that will suit the Nigerian ethos and the result is RecyclePoints.