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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Sweep Smart is a Dutch-Indian social enterprise offering zero waste solutions to municipalities and companies in emerging and developing countries based on European waste management principles tailored to the local context. They started with their pilot plant in 2016 and now have grown to 3 centres in Bangalore and 1 in Indonesia.
The Smart Waste Centres run by waste pickers-turned-into-waste managers collect and segregate waste for recycling. They have Europe-meets-local design hardware, processes and IT, like a sorting conveyor belt that is small, cheap and manufactured locally. In four best-in-class centres in Bangalore and Indonesia Sweep Smart has drastically improved capacity, recycling and working conditions.
They work with local governments, citizens, NGOs and waste management companies to make their mission reality. The team wants to scale up the Smart Waste Centre concept and also want to expand their product portfolio as well as grow to broader geographies within and outside India.
Clean streets and oceans, smaller landfills and jobs to be proud of!
Silvia founded SweepSmart in 2014. Her main experience is in circular economy/waste management and renewable energy, in particular in developing countries. She have lived and worked in Tanzania and India, so she has a particular love for those two beautiful countries.