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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Vessel is a non-profit that is positively disrupting the disposables' industry.
58 Billion paper cups are landfilled every year in the US alone. This is a big problem that Vessel is addressing with their solution.
Vessel offers customers, cafes and the city a superior option to paper and plastic cups. Vessel relies on proven systems reinvented for modern needs. Inspired by the glass-bottle model, Vessel uses sophisticated tracking and a library style service. Cafe-goers sign up for free and can check in and out Vessel mugs at cafes or convenient drop points across the city.
Their service replaces the need for single-use cups by offering the same “disposable” convenience while removing the hassle of remembering and maintaining a personal to-go mug.
Vessel’s tech-enabled solution offers customers real-time feedback of the positive impact their choices have when they receive updates from Vessel on how much waste they have diverted from landfills.
Their service is free to the consumer with business paying a small, per-use fee that is close to or less in cost than the current expenses incurred for disposables. City trash services also serve to save significantly on the reduced labor and disposal costs incurred in maintenance of public trash cans.
Led by founder Dagny Tucker, the core team blends backgrounds in business, systems and design-thinking, urban ecosystems, user-experience and technology. They are currently in conversations to scale with officials in one major city and multiple large property ownership groups globally.
With proof-of-implementation already achieved they are well-positioned to execute successful large-scale projects.