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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Sadako is a Spanish start-up that was founded in 2012. They are specialists in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and find innovative solutions for customers dealing with pressing global waste problems. Their AI has mainly been used by the recycling sector for sorting waste.
Sadako has developed algorithms that allow machines to learn what they need to perform their tasks. They have also fitted robots with 2-D and 3-D sensors to detect and recognize difficult objects in very complex environments. These technologies have been used in several commercial engineering projects.
Sadako collaborated with BHS to develop Max-AI™ Technology, powered by their AI and software system, that helps to sort waste and reduce waste streams of all kinds of material. As described by Eugenio Garnica: "Sadako provides the eye of the robot". it is able to organize recyclable objects or, conversely, to separate the materials that can not be recycled that arrive at a recycling plant.
In the RUBSEE Project, the AI’s vision technology is used to monitor the waste flow in real time as they are being processed. This allows optimal regulation which in turn improves economic, and environmental benefits.
Sadako Technologies is named after the Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion. Not surprisingly one of the main application of their technology is in the detection of radioactive hazardous nuclear objects in the nuclear industry, emergencies and security applications. Here this technology is used in places where humans cannot venture.
20 robots have been installed with the company's technology across the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia and there are more already sold, that will soon be installed.
Sadako Technologies has received several prestigious awards for its work, such as the NVIDIA Early Stage Challenge (2016), ECOEMBES R Prize (2015), 'Seal of Excellence Certificate’ of Horizon 2020 by the European Commission, and Innovative SME” of the Ministry of Economy, Government of Spain (2018). It has many major investors, but the largest is the European Union for project RUBSEE, under the SME- Horizon2020 program.
Eugenio Garnica is one of the three founders of Sadako and its CEO. With a degree in nuclear engineering, he has worked for more than 10 years in an engineering and construction firm and has taught engineering as Associate Professor for four years.