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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RanMarine Technology, the maker of Waste Shark® is based in Netherlands, and is handling the problem of water pollution by collecting and removing waste from the waters.
Their drones are designed to capture the waste before it reaches the open oceans. So Waste Shark has been designed to work in narrow, confined areas inland and near the coast like canals, ports, marinas, canals, lagoons, lakes, and rivers. The drones are called Wastesharks as they have been inspired by whale sharks, one of nature's best cleaners. Fitted with software these machines can collect plastic and microplastic waste, alien vegetation (e.g. duckweed), floating debris, chemicals, measure the water depth, temperature, and water quality, and search and report. The parameters monitored in water quality are numerous and include, pH, ORP, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, ammonium, chloride, nitrate, salinity, mV, ORP, TDS, and Resistivity.
RanMarine drones are also learning machines continuously gathering data from the environment, transmitting this data to a centralized database on dry land, and communicating with each other in the water. So, the drones are an autonomous, responsive, self-organizing net. The drones are of two types, the fully autonomous and the manual remote controlled ones. The WasteShark is designed for round-the-clock waste collection, and have a carrying capacity of 200 liters.
RanMarine currently operates in Netherlands and South Africa. It was founded by Richard Hardiman who is currently the CEO. The company is based in Rotterdam in Netherlands. RanMarine partners and supports UN's Clean Seas campaign and the Plastic Soup Foundation missions and their CEO has given talks on TED about this new technology.
Vectra Advanced Engineering Private Limited (VAEPL) is bringing to India the WasteShark®, to simultaneously eat garbage and collect environmental data.
Richard Hardiman is the founder and CEO since 2016 of RanMarine. Earlier he was GM of Blitzfoil International in Cape town for 2 years. Before that, he Co-founded 2 Oceansvibe radio (the first digital online radio in SA).