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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One billion pieces of composite waste material in the form of packaging, beverage cartons, photovoltaic modules or lithium-ion batteries end up in the landfill because they are difficult to recycle.
Saperatecseparates the ingredients in the composite with a 100% success rate to extract valuable secondary raw materials. Using proprietary separation liquids the composite layers are separated, releasing the individual materials. This then provides new secondary material for recycling. The technique has been tried in an industrial pilot plant and applied for separating paper and plastic films in cartons, aluminium and plastic coatings, glass, semiconductors and plastic in PV modules, aluminium, lithium metal oxide, graphite and copper in lithium-ion batteries, glass and plastic in car glass.
Conduct feasibility studies with suitable liquid separators in their laboratory and pilot plant. The industrial process is then finalized along with an evaluation of the economic feasibility.
Once this stage is over the engineering package follows with the description of processes and equipment
Provide assistance in realizing the recycling plant.
The technology is developed in in-house laboratories and in a versatile pilot plant, which illustrates the entire technical process on an industrial scale and demonstrates solutions for client-specific separation.
Henkel invested in the startup as it allows the separation and recycling of flexible packaging that contains aluminium foil. Its breakthrough technology allows the recovery of multimaterial laminates. The patented technology separates PE/aluminum/PET composites in a gentle way without material loss receiving high purity materials. For its innovative approach Saperatec has been awarded with several prizes, such as the Greentech award, Europe’s most renowned environmental and business prize.
Sebastian founded the company in 2010, and has run it ever since. Previously he co-founded Renewable Academy Ag, Berlin, and was research fellow at TU. He has a Ph.D from Technische Universität Berlin (TU).