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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Renewlogy was founded at MIT in 2011, with the vision to be a technology leader in developing solutions to landfill-bound waste.
Through their proprietary chemical recycling process, which allows them to reverse plastic back into its basic molecular structure, they convert non-recycled plastic waste into new valuable products such as high-value fuels and petrochemical products which are low in sulfur and produce zero toxic emissions. At present, it costs roughly $30 to make one barrel of this fuel. They have set up a demonstration facility in Salt Lake City and a commercial scale facility in Canada, with another facility planned for Phoenix.
Renewlogy has also developed a small-scale system of the same technology which can be deployed for ocean and river plastics. Renewlogy has partnered with non-profit Plastic Ocean Project and Renew Oceans, to use this technology to prevent plastic from entering the oceans. Onsite collection of plastic and processing cuts waste transport costs and emissions further. The project with Renew Oceans is supported by the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.
Renewlogy has also started a non-profit initiative called The Zero Waste to educate people with a kit on reducing their waste. People are encouraged to reduce their waste per week to only one mason jar, and the company helps by providing outlets to collect low-value plastics. Participants can take plastic waste to Renewlogy where they are shown how these can be converted to fuel.
The company is the recipient of numerous awards and has been selected by The Sustainable Packaging Coalition and The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners among five entrepreneurs and startups that are capable of successfully recovering multi-material flexible packaging waste for new uses.