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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At Saahas Zero Waste (SZW), they leverage Nature, People and Technology to holistically manage waste. In their decentralized waste management model, they operate waste management units in large tech-parks, residential complexes, and institutions. Their focus is to help their clients become zero waste entities.
Through the Zero Waste Management Programme they operate on site solutions for bulk waste generators including tech parks and residential waste management. For smaller generators, they offer holistic waste management program which includes collection and process at their unit, Kasa Rasa.
In the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program, they partner with packaging companies and E-Waste producers to develop and implement a reverse logistics mechanism that facilitates in bringing back bulk volumes of waste into the recycling chain. As a part of the ‘closing the loop’ initiative, SZW offers products made from waste including compost and a range of other recycled products.
Using these resources, SZW tries to create a circular economy by creating products made with recycled post consumer waste. Their products include: PolyAl roofing sheets made from recycled Post Consumer Tetra Pak Cartons (With Aluminium layer on one side), chipboard made from recycled Post Consumer Tetra Pak Cartons as well as C-Folds and Tissue rolls made from recycled post-consumer Tetra Pak cartons
Saahas Zero Waste has amassed many accomplishments including, reaching over 12000 citizens, diverting 15,000 tonnes of waste from landfills and avoiding 19,000 tons of GHG emissions.