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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Too much of the waste that our society produces ends up in the water, where it damages marine and human life. Sea turtles and fish get caught up in plastic, ships are obstructed in their paths, and micro plastics form a health hazard for the smallest to the largest organisms. Plastic soup is recognized as an international problem more and more, by both the public, municipalities, government and the European Union. The current solutions that stop waste in the rivers have two major drawbacks unfortunately; they block ship traffic and/or hinder fish movement.
The Great Bubble Barrier team searched for an elegant solution that blocks waste in the river, but also allows the passage of fish and ships. They arrived at a very simple idea: a barrier of bubbles.
The Great Bubble Barrier offers a solution for different problem-owners: it can help governments meet changing regulation on waste management in waterways, but also help cities fight plastic problems in their waters and help waterboards to save on their cleanups after high water.
The three co-founders of the Great Bubble Barrier, Anne Marieke Eveleens, Francis Zoet and Saskia Studer, all have a big passion for sailing and nature. This is what inspired them to look for a fitting solution to the plastic soup, both fish & ship friendly.
They have successfully run pilots in partnership with Deltares, Rijkswaterstaat & BAM / VandenHerik, and are supported by sustainable & offshore organizations like Sustainable Young 100, Our Oceans Challenge, By The Ocean We Unite and the Plastic Soup Foundation.
The Bubble Barrier intercepts 1 mm plastics in rivers and canals, and the team will further explore the possibilities and impact of our Bubble Barrier on microplastics coorperating with a research consortium formed by PWN (a drinking water company), KWR (research institut) and Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier (HHNK - water management board). This consortium is starting a study to prevent microplastics from purified wastewater from flowing into surface water. With this, the consortium is taking a step towards clarifying the nature of the cause and reducing the occurrence of microplastics in surface water as they can pose a threat to people and the environment.
The new Bubble Barrier installed in Wervershoof will give an insight into the physical effect of the Bubble Barrier on microplastics with a size of 0.5 mm to 0.02 mm.
As 8 of the 10 most polluted rivers in the world, are located in Asia, the team want to bring The Great Bubble Barrier there as soon as possible and are hoping to start there in a couple of years from now. The first steps, and contacts have been made.