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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Sea2Seeis changing the eye-wear industry by manufacturing glasses from waste materials found off the coast of Spain.
The company was founded by an environmentalist and entrepreneur who believes that circular economies can be used to tackle the plastic problem in the oceans – waste can be harvested and used as raw materials to make commercially sold products.
They work alongside fishing communities in Spain to collect the plastic waste and have even received a Chivas The Venture Spain award for their innovative work and social contribution as a startup. Not only is it reducing plastic in the area but also helping to decrease ghost fishing. The process of manufacturing the glasses is sustainable because they consist of 100% waste material in the form of plastic, fishing nets and debris. The end product has resulted in a premium line of glasses – optical and solar.
Their work hasn't gone unnoticed as they are now beginning to sell internationally outside of Spain due to the demand from environmentally conscious consumers. Even the Vice President of Belgium has been seen promoting their glasses in the UN Nations World Ocean Conference and firmly supports their work in marine waste recycling.