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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Smarter Sorting is a machine learning platform that automates store level decision-making for the sorting of unsaleable items.
Retailers have figured out the point of sale (POS) systems for the front of store. Smarter sorting has created the first-ever point of reversal (POR) solution for the back of store. Smart Sorting mentions that 1 in 10 products in the U.S. falls into this category annually.
Their first use case is in the handling of hazardous household items (e.g. spray paint, aerosol cans and bleach), which amounts to 400 million tons of waste/ year. If the product is denty or sticky at the point of sale, the retailer will not sell them. The lack of effective sorting of these products means that most of those materials are being incinerated.
Smarter Sorting has developed a holistic hardware + software solution, using machine learning to sort items. The system is powered by what they claim is the world’s first smart chemical database for regulated waste, opening up previously impossible transparency and sustainability for their customers.
They provide the hardware to scan and identify the items on an EIN code level
The software helps the crew determine more effectively how and where to sort waste items
The solution greatly improves sorting accuracy and creates new diversion opportunities
They help retailers limit regulatory liability, cut waste costs and manage all unsold items in the most sustainable and the most cost effective manner possible. Smarter Sorting sees opportunity for many other waste stream applications beyond household hazardous waste.
Smarter Sorting was founded in 2015 by Chris Ripley (CEO) and Charlie Valley and is based in Austin - US. In 2018, they closed a $9.3 million seed funding round. Smarter Sorting has 30 employees including a team of data scientists and experts.
Chris Ripley is Co-Founder and CEO of smarter sorting. As a Business Development, Sales and Operations leader, he is focused on driving growth and sustainable results for start-up, late stage, and high growth emerging technology, mobile and consumer product environments. Prior to founding Smarter Sorting, Chris was Chief Revenue Officer at Pro Guide Direct and Founder of CBR. He holds a degree in Economics and Psychology at The Williams College, Williamstown, MA - USA.
VP of sustainability
Sustainability & Business Development Lead, Smarter Sorting