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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Supercyclers was founded by designer and curator Sarah K to add aesthetics and style to sustainable solutions.
In 2010, she and Liane Rossler used the most discarded and ugliest of waste, the single use plastic bag, to make delicate colored vessels. Given its popularity, the company evolved into a platform that brought together increasing number of designers from all over the world. It is now an international design brand, driven by the creativity of world-class designers.
The list of products they make is long, just as the list of the materials they recycle and upcycle in the process. The designers use textiles, wool, wood, metal, plastics, cigarette butts and solar panels either as a single material or fuse them to make new materials. Bakelite, their recent collection of kitchenware released in 2015, is made of non-biodegradable plastics that was collected from the beaches in Australia. They have made them into cups and bowls, chef’s tweezers and a bento box. Each piece was made by heating and shaping the plastic over metal casts. Some other items from their designer collection include:
No Heater Winter Chair with wool, with matching blankets and mittens and boots to avoid using energy for heating.
Superfused Vases made by fusing metals such as brass, copper, or marble, with discarded plastic drinking straws.
Superblown vases made from discarded glass bottles, hand blown into delicate vessels
Plastic bag light fixtures
They have around 12 designers in their collective. They also design events, exhibitions, weddings, with the aim of reducing waste production in the process. They display their work in exhibitions. Supercyclers are based in Sydney with a network all over the world.