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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Zeropack was founded by Bio-on (50% owned by Rivoira) to revolutionize packaging of fruits and vegetables using PHA biopolymers.
Food packaging is a major contributor to the worldwide problem of packaging waste and pollution. Currently, this sector is dominated by pertrochemical based polymers that take centuries to degrade in the environment.
The replacement of oil sources with bio-based and naturally biodegradable materials such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) appears to be the most promising strategy and a long-term opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of food packaging waste.
Zeropack develops economic and eco-innovative materials for fruit and vegetable packaging to help reduce plastic waste and improve overall environmental sustainability.
All applications follow and respect the highest levels of standardization and certification. The company is able to produce films, crates, small and large containers, fruit supports and completely natural labels based on bioplastic, 100% natural and biodegradable in nature, produced from fruit and vegetable wastes.
Zeropack has acquired an exclusive license from Bio-on to exploit the technology for 10 million euros. The startup will soon generate new patents and will begin working with distributors and producers worldwide.