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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Thomsea is a French company founded in 2000 which collects floating waste from the oceans such as algae, petroleum and solid waste such as plastics and plants.
The firm was founded by local fishermen based on their experience in oil spills from tankers MV Erika in 1999 and MV Prestige in 2003. The company was able to demonstrate the use of its trawl to make cleanings.
Trawls are U-shaped floating devices that catch waste. They can be positioned on the coast or transported to the sea by boats. Trawls are available sizes of 2 and 8 tonnes. The nets can be used by fishing vessels, amphibious oyster barges and conventional maritime vessels.
Since 2010, the company has been cleaning solid waste. As part of a partnership with WasteFreeOceans, the company is equipping European countries to use solid waste cleaning technology and is training local seafarers.
Since 2013, the company has developed a new technology to collect and pump green, red and brown algae, and has a partnership with Olmix Group, which manufactures products based on algae.
Trawls are validated by the French Navy and Centre for Documentary Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (CEDRE).
The company has signed a contract to supply cleaning equipment to the Center of Expertise in pollution Control(CEPPOL), an expert body in the French Navy. Thomsea recently developed a project in collaboration with IADYS, combining bothtechnologies to provide Ports and Harbors cleanups.
Its other clients include government agencies such as National Ports Agency (ANP) of Morocco and companies such as Total Group and Bourbon Offshore.