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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Take 3 is an Australian not-for-profit organisation, founded in 2009 by surfing enthusiast, Amanda Marechal, marine ecologist, Roberta Dixon-Valk and environmentalist, Tim Silverwood. Take 3 are committed to reducing plastic pollution and promoting the transition to a circular economy through education and participation.
Their message is simple: Take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway… or anywhere special, and you’ve made a difference. They deliver education programs to inspire our global community to help create a cleaner planet for wildlife and future generations. It was a simple idea – to take 3 pieces of trash from the beach – that ignited the #Take3forthesea movement.
The idea was born in Australia in 2008 when Mandy & Roberta’s had a discussion about the ever-growing problem of marine debris. Tim joined forces with Mandy and Roberta in 2009 and the team developed a plan to take the idea to wider audiences. Take 3 officially registered as an organization in 2010 and were soon awarded the inaugural Taronga Conservation Society’s Green Grant and a $50 000 prize. With the grant, Take 3 took flight, setting up education programs in NSW, Australia. Through the tireless work of the 3 co-founders and many helpful volunteers, Take 3 have built the organization from a grassroots project to become a leading voice on plastic pollution, and importantly, solutions.
In 2017 Take 3 achieved deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, meaning, that donations to Take 3 over $2 are now tax-deductible in Australia. Take 3 are a now an international organization with participation in 129 countries (on Instagram). It’s Take 3’s mission to reduce global plastic pollution through education and participation. Take 3 deliver education programs in schools, surf clubs and communities in Australia and use social media to inspire broad audiences to take action to reduce plastic pollution using the #take3forthesea hashtag.
Tim is an environmentalist focussing on waste and it's impact of the natural world. He is co-founder and CEO of Take 3 (www.take3.org), and is also Director at ReChusable, an enterprise that provides sustainable alternatives to disposable products. Tim is a presenter, consultant and educator. He specializes in sharing his personal experiences and professional knowledge to inspire personal responsibility, innovation and behaviour change in schools, businesses, government departments and community groups.