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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Australian startup Zero Co aims to replace single-use plastic in households through reusable and refillable eco-friendly products.
A large amount of cleaning plastic bottles are used every year. An estimated amount of one billion bottles are used across all households in Australia, but only 12 per cent of household plastic waste gets recycled.
Zero Co aims to eliminate the use of single-use cleaning products with refillable containers. The process involves four steps:
The customer can choose from two variants of Starter Boxes.
The box is delivered, along with a postage-paid return envelope, dispensers and refill pouches.
The customer returns empty refill pouches in the return envelope via mail or schedules a pickup.
Zero Co cleans and refills the pouches, sending them out to more households upon order.
The dispensers are manufactured from plastic waste retrieved from the ocean, while the refill pouches are manufactured from plastic waste diverted from landfills.
Zero Co will initially release a range of products including dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid, stain remover, dishwasher tablet, hand soap, bodywash, multipurpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner and air freshener.
All Zero Co products boast of the following features:
Vegan and petrochemical free
Palm oil, SLS, SLES, Paraben and EDTA free
Septic and water safe
Made from waste plastic
Customers can customize their Zero Co box and even order only the refill pouches if required. The startup will deliver its products all across Australia. Customers can also track the part of the ocean they helped clean up, through a specific tracking number printed on the dispenser.
Zero Co is currently running a crowdfunding Kickstarter campaign and is planning to launch its products in October 2019.