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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Waste2wear is a recycled plastic-based textile company which aims to disrupt the traditional garment and textile industry, objectively reducing its carbon footprint and relieving the ocean of its plastic.
To tackle current environmentally inefficient manufacturing practices and discontent regarding industry standards, Monique Maissan, a textile engineer worked at learning and refining the production of yarn from recycled plastic. Her passion for this work and her penchant for textiles and creative design brought ‘Waste2wear’ to life.
The process involves collection (from ocean and land), shredding, melting and moulding of plastic bottles to generate yarn. This is termed as Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (R-PET), or simply, ‘recycled polyester’. R-PET is used with various other eco-friendly fibres (cotton, wool) to create garments as finished products. To push this out in the consumer market, they have partnered with multiple brands to manufacture and market sportswear, workwear, basics, high fashion, school uniforms, bags and other products.
Some notable initiatives include:
Ocean Plastic Project: This project plans to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean through research and industrial collaboration. From identifying plastic-dense areas in the ocean to placing finished products on the shelves, this project caters to the entire process. Currently, a few Dutch retail outlets have joined forces. These include the likes of Promiss, Claudia Strater, Wehkamp, Steps, Oilily, Joolz and Expresso.
Waste2weave: This aims to incorporate recycled plastic fabric with locally available natural fabrics to produce hand-made woven articles and garments. The project has also been a conduit for the empowerment of the Handloom industry in India, where a major chunk of workers are females.
Work with Dr Jane Goodall Institute Netherlands: with an active focus on innovative green collaborations for the future.
The products being manufactured are environmentally safe, certified by third-party quality testing companies like Intertek and Scientific Certification Systems. Waste2wear products also meet OKEO-Tex® Standard 100, Global Recycling Standards and BSCI standards put in place to ensure a safe and holistic work environment. They are fully transparent and compliant, and have a 100% traceable supply chain due to Block Chain technology and their own certification system RA3.
The problem of microfibers being generated has been under the sun lately, but the company claims that recycled textiles generate substantially fewer microfibers than their traditional nylon and cotton counterparts. Furthermore, using R-PET has advantages like usage of less water, energy and reduced CO2 generation and emission.
Monique is one of the pioneers of the modern eco textile disruption. In 2008, she began her work in the Netherlands with the objective of holistic progression of her industry. Through Waste2wear, she has actively contributed to a global paradigm shift in terms of consumer awareness towards plastic pollution and mass involvement to curb the same.