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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SafiHFO is a fuel produced from plastic waste by Adarsh Polymers, a company based in Kenya. The fuel can be used as a substitute to petroleum-based heavy fuel oil in industrial applications.
The product aims to tackle two problems of environmental degradation – plastic waste and the use of petroleum-based fuels.
The SafiHFO fuel is made by converting plastic waste into fuel through a pyrolysis process. Plastics are burnt or heated in a controlled process without oxygen. This causes the macromolecular structure of plastic polymers to break down into smaller molecules and monomeric units.
The fuel can be used in industrial boilers and furnaces. The company processes plastic waste such as Polyethylene (HDPE and LDPE), Polypropylene, and Polystyrene to make the fuel. It also uses waste tyres.
SafiHFO has a density similar to kerosene, diesel and gas oil, and hence is a suitable substitute. Its gross calorific value of 46.4 Mj per kg is higher than 41.2 Mj per kg of conventional fuel. The fuel also has lower viscosity than conventional fuel, which means it does not have to be heated before use. The fuel also has lower sulphur emissions.
The values were tested independently by Intertek, a quality assurance provider. It has also been tested at industrial facilities, such as at Beiersdorf in Hamburg, Germany.
SafiHFO is available for sale in Kenya. The Ole SereniHotel in Nairobi city already uses the fuel.
The company will keep the price of the fuel constant for six months, which it hopes will be an incentive over the price fluctuations of petroleum-based fuels. Adarsh Polymer also sells carbon briquettes that are a by-product of the pyrolysis process. The company additionally offers consultancy services for waste management and recycling.
In 2019, the company announced a partnership with the Kenya Climate Innovation Center.
Dan as a Masters' degree in Chemical and Process Engineering from the Moi University and has been certified by the Association of Energy Engineers as an energy manager and a measurement and verification professional.
Co-founder & Director