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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Trishula is an Indian startup that manufactures edible and biodegradable cutlery. The spoons come in a variety of spices and flavours.
Trishula's founder Kruvil Patel had noticed as a college student the large number of plastic spoons that were disposed of every day in the institute cafeteria. He then discovered that edible cutlery was available. But when he ordered some, he found the cutlery lacked taste, which led him to the idea of adding spices and flavours.
Trishula spoons are made using multigrain flour bran, salt and water and do not contain sugar, preservatives or artificial substances. They come in a variety of flavours, such as pepper, mint, beetroot, spinach and chocolate. Trishula currently sells dessert spoons, tablespoons and soup spoons, and plans to expand into other forms of cutlery.
The spoons are available through a distributor in Mumbai as also from the company's website, which accepts orders for up to 5,000 units for each spoon type. The spoons are available for under Rs 10 each.
The startup claims to have clients in India, Germany, South Africa, Australia, South Korea, and other countries and has sold over 50,000 spoons already. Its spoons are available in hotels such as the Imperial Hotel, Hotel Le Grande and Regal Enclave.
The firm is setting up a manufacturing unit that can produce 5,000 spoons in an hour.