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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TagITSmart has been a 3 years long H2020 project managed by DunavNET that enables smart tracking of products across the value chain, using Smart Tags which have FunCodes, essentially creating an IoT ecosystem of mass-market products.
Internet of Things (IoT) is forecasted to have a global market of $1.7 Trillion in 2019, with the potential to generate $4-11 trillion worth of economic value by 2025. IoT enables devices and networks to communicate, creating a digital ecosystem, wherein each device or network can transmit and gather information about other devices over the internet, and perform specific actions and take decisions.
TagItSmart brings this connectivity to mass-market products like milk cartons, steak packages, a book, etc. These tags give information about their environment and other vital information, enabling seamless tracking along the life-cycle of the products.
The Smart Tags are printable QR codes called Functional Codes (FunCodes), which are attached to a product, allows support for reliable acquisition of contextual information about the product, without compromising user privacy. They dynamically change according to the context change of each tagged product. TagItSmart offers several benefits and use-cases:
The pervasive presence of smartphones and NFC readers facilitates consumer involvement and awareness about the product
Consumer engagement and experience is enhanced by providing them direct access to production data
Providing valuable insights to the manufacturers about how their products are being used
Ensures that wastage is minimized by tracking the shelf life of products and notifying retailers accordingly; this maximizes efficiency across the value chain.
Has use cases that vary from cold chain quality management to preventing illicit brand protection and feedback on recycling in homes.
TagItSmart’s Open Call was looking for tools to create smart solutions for manufacturers, transportation, retail, consumer and recycling, using their technology. They received 21 eligible proposals, from various IoT companies based in 11 countries across Europe, resulting in projects with ELKA-HUA, University of Donja Gorica, Quadible Ltd and UBITECH among others.