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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Waste Free Oceans (WFO) collects and transforms ocean plastic into new, beautiful products. They partner with recyclers, converters and brands to make optimal use of available resources and raise awareness on the issue of ocean plastic. Based in Brussels, they also operate in the Americas, Asia and Turkey.
WFO acquired innovative, yet simple "Ocean Trash Collectors", which can remove 2-8 tonnes of floating marine debris. They offer a locally implementable solution to marine litter: attaching nets to fishing boats. The aim is to lease them to businesses and NGOs in areas of waste accumulation. They collaborate with companies to create products from the recycled material, making optimal use of available plastic resources. Connecting brands to our trusted network of plastic recyclers and converters, WFO builds the bridge in transforming marine litter into new sustainable products.
WFO lobbies stakeholders at all levels to raise awareness about the issue of marine litter and implement projects to motivate behaviour change. They welcome participation in beach clean-ups or fundraisers. They claim that in 2013, WFO successfully lobbied EU policy makers to secure subsidies from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) for fishermen to perform marine clean-ups.
With the growing global call to action to address the issue of marine litter, WFO feels that they are ideally placed to offer practical answers: their strong connections within the European plastics and recycling industries and extensive experience in recovering, recycling and reusing marine plastics allow Waste Free Oceans to contribute to cleaner waters and waste free seas.
Since the beginning of the year 2019, seven new sponsors have joined forces with Waste Free Oceans, in order to protect the world’s oceans and waterways. These include Dow, the chemical company; proWIN, the German network marketing company that sells cosmetic products; Persan, a leader in the Spanish detergents and softeners sector; Jansy, the US packaging design company; Iglo, the Belgian frozen fish manufacturer; Keter, a leader in plastic home and outdoor storage solutions; and Stop the Water while using me!, the German natural cosmetics brand.
WFO was co founded in 2011 by Bernard Merkx, with the aim of helping Europe to become a leader in the global drive to prevent further marine litter from clogging up our oceans and harming precious eco-systems.