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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Simply Cups is Australia's first coffee cup recycling program, allowing businesses and schools to close the loop on coffee cups. Simply Cups started in the UK in August 2014 when coffee companies and paper mills banded together to develop a solution that addressed the UK’s fastest growing waste stream: coffee cups.
Previous attempts to recycle coffee cups had failed due to the costs required for separating cups from bales of compacted paper and cardboard. Two paper mills developed new equipment that could separate the liquid-proof liner from a paper cup, creating a market for an individual collection system that would separate coffee cups from other waste without the need for costly sorting procedures. Using established logistics services from Simply Waste Solutions, Simply Cups was launched and provided collection and recycling services dedicated to turning coffee cups into second-life materials.
Following the success of Simply Cups UK, Closed Loop introduced Simply Cups to the Australian market in 2016 with a successful pilot program where 12,000 coffee cups were collected from just three office buildings in a four-week period.With an estimated one billion takeaway coffee cups sent to landfill in Australia every year, Simply Cups now operates within businesses across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, saving millions of cups from landfill.