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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Startup Rens Original manufactures waterproof sustainable shoes and sneakers using recycled coffee grounds.
Used coffee grounds offers a number of beneficial features making them suitable for use in sustainable consumer goods. Coffee grounds have a natural deodorizing ability with antibacterial properties. The coffee grounds also have UV blocking abilities and form natural micro pockets which allow quick drying of yarn made from them.
At Rens Original, the yarn to manufacture shoes is developed from recycled coffee grounds and recycled polyester. With the used ratio, Rens estimates that each pair of shoes saves the equivalent of six plastic bottles and 21 cups of coffee.
The yarn made using recycled coffee grounds is used in the removable insole and the knit upper lining. The coffee lined membrane makes the shoe airtight and 100% waterproof, making them a viable option for comfort during wear.
The waterproof membrane is processed using Rens Original's trademark AquaScreen Tech technology, which keeps the shoes waterproof while allowing sufficient air to pass through. This feature was extensively tested by submerging the shoes in water and observing air passing through the membrane while blocking all water droplets.
Due to the absorbent and deodorizing properties of the coffee grounds, the shoes are sweat absorbent making them ideal for prolonged use.
Additionally, the shoes provide the following benefits:
Grip for all terrains.
4-way stretch material.
Easy slip-on wearing process.
The shoes are currently available in 9 different color variants and in a variety of sizes for both men and women.
Rens Original shoes ran very successful Kickstarter and IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaigns and are expected for delivery in November 2019.
Jesse is an alumnus of Aalto University. He was the winner of Summer of Startups 2016 hosted by Aalto Entrepreneurship Society. He was previously the co-founder and CEO of FactoryFinder. He is currently the CEO at Rens.
Chu Hoang Son
CMO & CTO
Chu holds Bachelor Degrees in Computer Software Engineering and Information Tech. Prior to co-founding Rens in 2017, Chu had worked as Web and software developer and engineer.
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