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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TOMRAwas founded on an innovation in 1972 that began with the design, manufacturing and sale of reverse vending machines(RVMs) for automated collection of used beverage containers. Today TOMRA continues to innovate and provide cutting-edge solutions for optimal resource productivity within two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending and material recovery)and Sorting Solutions (food, recycling, and mining)
The company is a world leader in reverse vending machines with more than 82,000 installations across more than 60 markets. Users get an instant reward when returning used containers to TOMRA reverse vending machines, motivating repeated use and further raising collection rates. As reverse vending machines are often an integrated part of consumers' routines, everyday recycling is made convenient, efficient and profitable for all stakeholders.
The company is also able to build customized solutions for different needs. Since it developed its first reverse vending machine, more than 45 unique reverse vending solutions have been brought to market. That is because an optimal solution is dependent on the environment it operates in – from the space available and the types of packaging being collected to the number of consumers it serves and different usage patterns, both nationally and internationally.
Stefan Ranstrand is a business leader with broad international experience. Prior to joining Tomra, he was a Senior Vice President and head of the High Voltage Products business unit at ABB, a technology leader in power grids and electrification products. Ranstrand, who is Swedish, has been president at Tomra since 2009. He holds a Master of Science (M.Sc.) Industrial and Management Engineering at the Linköping Technical university, Sweden; and a Diplom Wirtschaftsingenieur
at the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany