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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Superhalm provides an innovative alternative to the plastic drinking straw. It is edible and lasts longer in the drink than a paper straw. The super-straw tastes sweet-sour, crispy and does not give off any flavor to your drink.
Every year, 500,000 tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, according to the European Commission. The latest symbol of this culture of non-recyclable and damaging waste? Plastic straws. Governments and businesses around the world are now taking radical action against them. The Germany-based start-up Wisefood wants to help - with edible straws made from apple pomace, the solid waste left over in the production of apple juice.
The straws are gluten-free, made from apple pulp and fibres but almost no fat. Unlike its plastic counterpart, the eco-friendly straw does eventually get soft. Superhalm lasts the longest in alcoholic cold drinks - well over 1 hour. In water or juices it is stable for 60 minutes. Even warm drinks such as tea or coffee can be drunk with Superhalm. Compared to the normal paper drinking straw, they achieve a much higher stability. The company is working on an improved manufacturing process that will help increase the straws' durability to two to three hours.
The founders started working on the recipe in 2015. Their initial prototypes were too soft to use as drinking straws, and when they dried out they became misshapen. After refining their methods and formula, they upped production to around 10,000 a day at the German Institute of Food Technologies.
They produce thee straws in Germany and rely exclusively on renewable raw materials. The raw materials are sourced exclusively from certified partners and are carefully selected for best quality. The development was supported by the Free State of Saxony and the European Union.
They are planning to move production to a spaghetti factory in Spaichingen, where they will manufacture half a million edible straws every day. They are also working on developing other flavours, including savoury straws.
The initial capital for the business was raised by crowd-funding. "At the moment we're in lots of talks to find partners and distribution channels," says Neumann. That includes the first try-outs at several hotel chains and the wholesaler Metro.
The startup has already been well recognized as it was among 100 projects to win a prize from Germany's Land der Ideen initiative (Land of Ideas), it was selected among the finalists in the futureSAX competition and the IQ Innovationspreis Mitteldeutschland prize.