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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Winnow Solutions, a London-based company, has developed Winnow Vision that helps reducing food wastage in commercial kitchens and helps reform practices to prevent wastage, facilitating economical daily operations.
A third of the world's food is wasted. Food waste as a country would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases, along with costing around $1 trillion in lost output to the global economy, which is about 1.5% of the global GDP. Commercial kitchens waste about 15 to 20 percent of the food purchased, costing the hospitality industry around $100 billion each year.
Winnow Vision is an AI-enabled tool that tackles the food wastage problem in kitchens of the hospitality industry by analyzing and learning food wastage patterns in the kitchens. The system uses a single camera to recognize the food items being thrown away; it validates and weighs how much food is wasted; it provides insights to reduce waste in the future. After an initial training period, the accuracy of the system surpasses human accuracy in identifying food items and uses this to identify food wastage patterns in the kitchen. This technology can be used by chefs to drastically reduce food wastage and establish economical food purchasing patterns.
The adoption of this technology provides several benefits:
Leverages Machine Learning and Computer Vision techniques, enabling the system to become smarter as the image data increases
Enables the kitchens to reduce the food wastage and effectively save on purchasing costs and time
Reduces the food being wasted by 40 to 70%, thus reducing costs by 3-8% within 6-8 months
Has a typical return on investment of about 200 to 1000% within the first year of installation
Enables the chefs to run efficient and sustainable kitchens
In January 2018, Winnow Vision was launched with IKEA and Emaar Hospitality being early adopters since October 2017. So far Winnow has saved about $33 million in food costs, preventing over 23 million meals from going into the bin and preventing 42,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. Winnow has been awarded the Tech Disruptor 2019 award at the Circular, which recognizes achievements in the circular economy. They have recently raised $12 million in a Series B funding round by Ingka Group and Mustard Seed; bringing the total funding to $20 million to enable expansion across global markets.