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Frequently Asked Questions

 

           
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What is biodegradability?

Materials that can transform themselves into simpler, harmless substances are referred to as biodegradable products. In nature there are microorganisms that synthesize a wide variety of enzymes capable of degrading numerous chemical compounds. The property of biodegradability depends on the chemical structure of the product. For example, plastics, certain detergents, insecticides and pharmaceutical residues are compounds chemically resistant to microbial action and are therefore very prone to cause pollution.

What are bioplastics?

Bioplastics such as Nature Renew™ products are polymers that come from natural, renewable sources. Most have a high degree of biocompatibility, and all of them are biodegradable by microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, algae, etc.
Vegetable bioplastics are made from soy, corn, tapioca or sweet potato starch. Their glucose polymers enable them, following a process of extrusion and other treatments, to be converted into material for flatware, containers or bags.
Also used are polylactic acids (PLA) produced from polymerized lactic acid derived from fermentation of lactic bacteria with cornstarch. They are used as heat-seal layers, labels and shipping bags, as an alternative to traditional films and in the manufacture of packaging.

What is the difference between compostable and biodegradable?

Compostable Plastic is plastic which is “capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the plastic is not visually distinguishable and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate consistent with known compostable materials (e.g. cellulose) and leaves no toxic residue.” American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM).

In order for a plastic to be called compostable, three (3) criteria must be met:

1 Biodegrade – break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass at the same rate as cellulose (paper).

2 Disintegrate – the material is indistinguishable in the compost, so that it is not visible and needs to be screened out.

3 No Ecotoxicity – biodegradation does not produce any toxic material and the compost can support plant growth.

Biodegradable Plastic is plastic which will degrade from naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, etc. over a period of time. Note, that there is no requirement for leaving “no toxic residue,” and no requirement as to the time taken to biodegrade.

What is Tapioca?

Tapioca is the name given to the starch derived from the Yuca, Mandioca or Cassava plant (Manihot esculenta). This plant is a shrub that reaches a height of two meters. It is well adapted to tropical conditions. In normal use, the plant is uprooted when it is one year old in order to extract the edible roots; if it grows older, the root hardens to the point that it is no longer edible. Cuttings are taken from the uprooted plants for replanting

The manioc root is cylindrical and reaches a length of 1 meter and a diameter of 10 cm. The outside layer is hard, woody and inedible. Depending on the variety, it may be white or yellowish in color.

What problems do plastic cause?

One of the main problems caused by conventional plastic is greenhouse-effect gas emissions produced as a result of the manufacturing process, during which large quantities of carbon dioxide are given off. When conventional plastic is discarded, it remains in the atmosphere for hundreds and in some cases thousands of years. Blockage of sewers and drains, contamination of beaches and the landscape or even a threat to animal life on land and in rivers and oceans are only some of the problems caused by plastic waste.

Current practices for handling plastic waste include incineration, use as sanitary landfill and recycling. However, incinerator capacity is insufficient and generates gases that make this a highly polluting practice. For its part, recycling, while playing an important role in the handling of waste, will never be able to handle all of the plastic waste that is produced, and also requires an additional waste processing step involving a high additional cost. All of this is creating a sanitation crisis, with the result that communities, businesses and government are more interested every day in looking for alternatives to plastic, such as bioplastics, to deal with this situation.

What effect do non-biodegradable substances have on the environment?

Substances which do not degrade remain in the atmosphere for a long period, as much as hundreds and thousands of years, causing pollution. By contrast, biodegradable products disappear after only a short time. The industrial development of the past decades has had a major impact on the environment and has accelerated environmental pollution, because enzyme compounds are unable to degrade the waste products of some industries. River water has also been polluted by this waste. Certain materials used in industry, such as rubber or plastic, do not degrade quickly and are highly polluting.

Why is global warming happening?

 

Global warming is an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s surface as a result of the greenhouse effect caused by the increased concentration of gases in the earth’s atmosphere, which are causing climate change. The principal greenhouse-effect gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), tropospheric ozone and methane.

What is the effect of greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases act in a manner similar to the glass roof of a greenhouse, trapping heat and overheating the planet. The temperature increase leads to climate change involving effects such as rising sea level, changes in precipitation models causing floods and droughts, and dissemination of communicable diseases such as malaria.

How does global warming affect us?

Global warming is already affecting millions of living beings every day through destructive weather patterns and loss of habitat. If we do not take measures at once, it will be our children and grandchildren who may suffer most from the effects of global warming. If we do not reduce the rate at which the planet is becoming warmer and do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hundreds of millions of people may be exposed to hunger, droughts, extreme weather conditions and the loss of countless animal and plant species.

Is there a direct relationship between human activity and global warming?

Climate change caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, is the scourge of our era, and there is evidence that global warming has for the most part been caused by human activities. Nowadays, nearly all of the activities in which we engage (moving about, feeding ourselves, etc.) and the goods we possess and use (consumer and household goods, etc.) involve consuming energy, which in turn means contributing to atmospheric emissions. Scientific studies indicate that greenhouse-effect gas emissions have increased markedly since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, with the increased intensity of the action of human beings on nature. In view of this, the international scientific community has warned that if worldwide development, demographic growth and pollution and energy consumption based on fossil fuels continue to increase at the present rate, by 2050 carbon dioxide concentrations will have reached double the levels that existed before the Industrial Revolution, causing a devastating effect on climate.

What can we do to prevent global warming?

All of us can and must contribute our grain of sand to contribute to the reduction of global warming. Below you will find a list of tips to help alleviate this problem:

1 Plant a tree: Trees are natural regulators of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A tree can absorb a ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.

2 Change a bulb: By replacing a normal light bulb with a compact fluorescent or other energy-saving light, you will stop emitting half a ton of carbon dioxide per year.

3 Choose renewable energy: If you live in a state that allows you to choose your energy supplier, choose a Green-e-certified company that generates at least half its energy from wind, solar or other clean sources.

4 Buy energy-efficient appliances: Use appliances that comply with the Energy Star low consumption standard, especially electrical appliances and computers. The electricity savings are significant and you will be reducing the pollution caused by power generating plants.

5 Unplug electrical appliances that are not in use: Many electrical appliances, including computers, consume electricity even when turned off. The only solution is to unplug them when they are not needed.

6 Recycle and reuse: You can stop producing 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide per year if you recycle only half of your household trash. Reuse envelopes, boxes, bags, sheets of paper, etc. You can stop producing 550 kg of carbon dioxide if you reduce your trash by 10%.

7 Control waste: Avoid products packaged in plastics such as Styrofoam, polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, PVC, etc. These are highly polluting. Use of biodegradable products such as bioplastics made from vegetable starches is one option that respects the environment and helps reduce CO2 emissions.

8 Drive less: When possible, walk, ride a bicycle, use public transportation and share automobile trips with neighbors or friends to go to work or take children to school.

9 Check your tires: Keeping tires inflated to the correct pressure can improve gasoline consumption more than 3%. For each liter of gasoline you save, you avoid emitting 2.40 grams of carbon dioxide.

10 Send a message: You can become a role model for your children, neighbors and friends by changing your habits and following these recommendations. In this way you will be helping to reduce global warming. Your voice can reach legislators, raising their consciousness and resulting in laws that protect our environment.

What is the carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint is a way of measuring the contribution of organizations to being socially responsible, and another way to raise the consciousness of individuals to promote more sustainable practices in the community.

This initiative seeks to quantify greenhouse-effect gas emissions measured in equivalent CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of our daily activities or the marketing of a product. This analysis covers all activities in the life cycle, from acquisition of raw materials to handling them as waste, enabling consumers to decide what foods to buy based on the pollution generated as a result of the processing they undergo.

Measurement of a product’s carbon footprint creates real benefits for organizations. The carbon footprint identifies the sources of a product’s greenhouse-effect gas emissions. This makes it possible to define better objectives, more effective policies to reduce emissions and better targeted cost savings initiatives, all as a result of a better understanding of the critical points for reducing emissions, whether or not the direct responsibility of the organization concerned.

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