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 Materials Marketplace is an online cloud platform launched by Pathway 21, as a part of its mission to form a circular economy for reusable materials.
The platform aims to stop the need for manufacturing new materials. Instead, companies can buy and sell their reusable materials on the platform, allowing them to lower costs, strengthen the supply chain and generate more long-term value on products.
The platform is extremely user-friendly, involving two simple steps:
The participant is required to sign up to the platform and fill in details of the reusable materials they wish to purchase or sell.
Once matched with an opportunity, the buyer and seller successfully make a transaction which is kept secured and facilitated by the platform.
Apart from making transactions simpler, the platform also provides major benefits to the registered companies:
Matching: The platform actively matches buyers to sellers as per their requirement of materials. Opportunities, where a company can avail maximum reuse value and product benefits, are also identified and pushed out as recommendations.
Support: Registered companies find assistance in a network of industry experts with extensive knowledge of profitable and practical reuse of materials.
Communication: The participants can engage in a direct dialogue with the concerned buyer or seller to discuss availability, pricing and logistics.
Security: All transactions made on the platform are kept private and secure. Additionally, any data shared and communications carried out are also kept protected.
The platform has won multiple awards including The Circulars Digital Disruptor Award 2016, The Environmental Leader Product and Project Award 2016 and the IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Award 2016.
At present, the platform is used by participants in Austin, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio, with more regions to be added soon. The platform has also been launched in Turkey and Vietnam.