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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The Interceptor™ is an automated system that collects plastic waste flowing down rivers. The system claims to be a scalable solution and aims to reduce 80% of plastic waste from entering the oceans.
The Interceptor™ is a project of non-profit The Ocean Cleanup that aims to clear the oceans of plastic waste. Plastic waste is among the greatest threats to the marine environment, affecting 600 species and causing an estimated financial damage of nearly 13 billion USD. Scientists have flagged that rivers contribute to most of the plastic waste in oceans. The Ocean Cleanup’s research found that 1,000 rivers are responsible for 80% of all plastic waste in the ocean.
The Interceptor consists of a boat anchored to the riverbed and a floating barrier that spans a part of the river, intercepting floating plastic waste as it flows down with the river’s natural flow. The garbage is directed to the boat, where it is carried on conveyor belts into one of the six onboard containers. Once the containers are full, an onboard computer sends a text message to operators nearby, who ferry the waste containers using tugboats.
The fully automated system works on solar power, operates 24/7, and The Ocean Project claims that it does not harm movement of wildlife. The Interceptor can clean 50,000 kg of waste in a day. The Interceptor™ claims to be a scalable solution unlike other river garbage interceptors in operation, like the trash wheel in Baltimore, USA. The Ocean Cleanup aims to work with governments and corporations to deploy The Interceptor™ in all 1000 rivers by 2025.
The Interceptor™ has been tested in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Klang, Malaysia, and would be soon installed in Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Thailand, and in the USA.