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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Ridwell was started with the objective to encourage people to dump more waste, albeit in a highly organized fashion. The company specialize in waste collection which usually poses immense trouble for traditional recycling post dumping.
The startup was founded by a father son duo in Seattle. The idea was born when they found it challenging to safely dispose batteries. Currently, a major chunk of all household waste generated ends up in landfills, a lot of which is because of human behavior. Ridwell's solution offers cotton bags to their subscribers which are labelled as per the type of waste they are designed to handle. Each bag is personally collected by a company personnel. This allows the subscriber to progressively declutter their home. Trusted recycling partners are chosen to process all the collections.
The core categories they recycle are batteries, light bulbs, plastic film, and threads. But they also collect: Electronics, small devices, small appliances, cords and cable, lamps and lighting, unwanted Halloween candy, books, take-out utensils, eyeglasses, cork, oral hygiene products, etc.
The entire operation is economical for a subscriber, $10-14 being charged per month for two collection trips. An additional $9 can be deposited to dispose 40 gallons of styrofoam. Subscribers are free to ask questions regarding the subject. Currently, they have over 1,000 active subscribers, they are scaling up with Portland being their next destination. Ridwell has kickstarted a movement towards holistic waste management.