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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Renew Oceans is a non-profit organization working to reduce ocean plastic pollution where it begins—in populous, river-adjacent communities in the developing world. Their vision is to create highly scalable, circular economies for plastics in river communities which are known to be the biggest contributors of ocean plastic pollution—starting with the Ganges basin. The Renew Oceans strategy leverages science, technology, and human capital to achieve their ambitious goals. Their inaugural project, Renew Ganga, is the centerpiece of their efforts to divert ocean-bound plastics in India, empowering local women and others in Varanasi to help protect rivers and oceans from plastic pollution.
Renew Oceans aims to solve the problem of plastic pollution by using an integrated approach toward collection planning, conversion technology, and community engagement.
Renew Oceans is focused on the collection of both hard and soft plastics through both river- and land-based methods, leveraging innovative technologies including ReFences and Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs). They have implemented conversion of traditionally low value film and flexible plastics via RenewOne into renewable fuel to address the lack of end markets for soft plastics. Lastly, their communityengagement campaigns foster changes in longstanding habits and perceptions. Renew Oceans works with students and community leaders, and their empowerment of and financial incentives for women waste pickers, builds momentum and drives adoption of new behaviors.
Renew Oceans' initiatives are sponsored by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste with support from Happy Family Organics. In their first year, over 100,000 pounds of waste was diverted from the Assi River tributary, and more than 1,000 community members were engaged. In 2020, they aim to double that, diverting over 200,000 pounds of waste and engaging 10,000 members of the community in their work.
Governments, NGOs, waste collection & disposal companies, and bioenergy companies are potential clients.