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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Sustana Fiber manufactures high-quality FSC certified recycled fibres from post-consumer waste, for the production of sustainable paper and packaging items.
Sustana uses automated processes to turn post-consumer plastic-coated single-use cups into recycled fibre.
The process used by Sustana mechanically separates the plastic coating from the paper, leaving behind the pulp. The pulp is then washed, treated and moulded into sheets. Once combined with virgin fibre, the sheets can be used for FDA compliant food packaging.
In 2018, Sustana partnered with Starbucks to test the recycling procedure, by converting 25 million discarded single-use cups into FDA compliant disposable cups. The new cups are recyclable themselves, closing the sustainable loop.
Sustana's recycled fibres have been incorporated in a range of products like:
EnviroLife™: A 100% post-consumer recycled fibre suitable for FDA compliant food contact packaging. The fibre is Elemental Chlorine Free, has zero fluorescence and is FSC certified. The material can be used for food packaging, paper cups and beverage cartons. Production of EnviroLife™ requires 9 times less water than traditional fibres.
The production process focuses on sustainability by optimizing energy and water usage, 100% recycling and de-inking. Two of Sustana's plants recycle the production water 17 times during its de-inking process and treat it before release, leaving it cleaner than before.
Each year Sustana Fibers recycles enough paper to save over 4 million trees. The amount of paper recycled in a year reduces 1 million cubic yards of landfill space. An equivalent of 750 million pounds of waste paper is processed each year.