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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Product designer Jonna Breitenhuber has designedSOAPBOTTLE, a liquid dispenser made from water-soluble soap as part of her Master's thesis at the University of Arts in Berlin.
A large amount of liquid hygiene products and cosmetic products are packaged in plastic material. The waste from the packaging adds to the 300 million tonnes of plastic waste produced annually. Only 10% of waste worldwide is recycled, meaning most of the recyclable packaging waste ends up in landfills. With SOAPBOTTLE, Joanna aims to eliminate the need for plastic in the packaging of hygiene liquids.
The SOAPBOTTLE is manufactured in a few simple steps:
A commonly used soap bar is hollowed out
The inside is lined with a water-insoluble layer
A reusable metal closure tap is fitted
The water-insoluble layer prevents the contained liquid from dissolving in the soap.
The soap used in the SOAPBOTTLE is water-soluble and gradually washes off after repeated use.
In the event that the bottle becomes difficult to use because of the lather, a puncture hole has been fitted which allows the user to hang the bottle for easy dispersal.
The soap dissolves gradually through repeated use, giving the consumer enough time to use the liquid contents. Once the bottle is empty, it can itself be used as a handwash.
Being completely biodegradable, the SOAPBOTTLE can also be safely discarded, with no risk of waste or pollution.
The SOAPBOTTLE has been tested with a number of hygiene liquid products with positive results.