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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Saola has been launched in 2018 and manufacture sustainable shoes made of recycled PET, recycled Algae foam, organic cotton and cork.
Each year, 25 billion pairs of shoes are manufactured world-wide. Sadly, almost none of these are made sustainably, making the textile industry the world’s second largest polluter behind oil and gas.
Saola's team is making eco-construction the central pillar of SAOLA’s shoe development as they state that sixty to seventy percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of shoes is a result of the product’s materials. As outdoor lovers, they are parents of future generations, and are dedicated to making a difference.
The materials used to make the shoes are:
Recycled plastic bottles (PET) for the upper part. It’s woven to create the comfy and stylish fabric uppers for SAOLA shoes. Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between four and five recycled PET bottles. Their PET supplier is accredited by the "Recycled Global Standard" certification, which ensures the traceability of the production line of these materials.
Recycled algae foam for the insoles and outsoles: they have partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of our shoes. Bloom Foam removes harmful algae from the water and puts it through a process that dries, crushes and converts it into powder. This powder is then mixed with EVA (a synthetic material) to become Algae Foam, used for sole construction. Using Algae Foam allows Saola to use fifteen to twenty percent less synthetic materials in the shoes soles, cleans lakes of harmful algae, and prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Organic cotton for the laces.
Cork for the top layer of the insoles. Cork is a natural and highly renewable material harvested from the bark of cork trees. This process causes no harm to the trees. In fact, harvesting the bark can extend the trees lifespan to over 200 years. Cork also creates a healthy walking environment for the feet, as they mold to the shape of the foot, reduce joint stress, and are odor resistant.
The shoes can be ordered online through their website nad are distributed in the US through retailers.
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Annecy-le-Vieux, France, Europe
Stage of Development
In Market TRL 9
Value Chain Impact
Upcycle, Product / Package
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