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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Zeleno aims to improve the waste segregation process in India by installation of Reverse Vending Machines and motivating customers to recycle by incentivizing them.
RVM Recycle’s Zeleno involves collection of empty plastic PET bottles and aluminum cans using the smart bins and rewarding the user for the same in terms of cash back or discount vouchers, which can be subsequently redeemed at the specific outlet. Each Zeleno or RVM has a digital screen. Users open the door of the smart bin and drop in the bottle by following the basic commands on a touchscreen. Sensors detect the aluminum and scan the bottles. The details of the PET and aluminum bottles are then tallied with the database and then it is passed through the conveyor belt.
By recycling with Zeleno Machines consumers of PET bottles and even the ragpickers take home a token for putting the bottles into the smart bin. Ragpickers can even collect bottles thrown carelessly on footpaths and street corners and put it into the bins. Around 2,000 bottles and aluminum cans can be recycled in one smart bin before it needs to be emptied.
The smart bin also doubles up as a platform for advertisers to showcase their campaigns and position themselves as part of the green brigade. The LCD display panels of the RVM provide advertising space in the form of either rotating or static or video slots. This drastically reduces the carbon footprint of more traditional advertising while remaining cost-effective and highly visible.
They have been featured prominently in the media and have gained recognition from the Indian Government.