Meet the future of plastic: a bag that looks and feels like plastic, but will biodegrade within 180 days and can be eaten.
When several Indian cities introduced a partial or total ban on plastic bags, environmental advocates applauded the effort. However, it soon became clear that not everyone would benefit from the initiative. In addition to people forgetting their bags, the less fortunate cannot afford alternative like cloth bags which leaves them in a precarious situation.
Confronted with this problem, 25-year-old entrepreneur Asthwash Hedge decided to develop a solution. The Mangalore-born innovator researched the problem for about four years before he designed a bag made from potato and tapioca starch. His company, EnviGreen, now produces 100% organic, biodegradable and eco-friendly bags that are similar to plastic in durability and feel but won’t harm the environment.
The Qatar-based NRI entrepreneur told The Better India:
“The Mangalore City Corporation implemented a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of plastic bags in the year 2012. But the decision was taken without preparations for alternatives. People were concerned about how they would carry products from the market now. Everyone cannot afford a bag worth Rs. 5 or Rs. 15 to carry a kilogram of sugar. I decided to come up with alternatives after hearing about these problems in my hometown.”
The natural bags are comprised of about twelve ingredients, including potato, tapioca, corn, natural starch, vegetable oil, banana, and flower oil. When thrown away, an EnviGreen bag will decompose in about 180 days. When placed in a glass of water, however, it will dissolve in just 15 seconds! This means that when the bags are discarded, they will neither stay in the environment or harm wildlife. To prove just how save the EnviGreen bags are, Asthwash consumed a bag after boiling it in water during the interview with The Better India.
“We don’t use any chemicals at all. Even the paint used for printing on the bags is natural and organic,” explains Asthwash.
Though the cost of one EnviGreen bag is about 35% more than that of a plastic bag, it costs 500% less than what a cloth bag is sold for. The entrepreneur elaborates:
“To give you a rough idea, an EnviGreen bag measuring 13 inches by 16 inches costs Rs. 3, while a plastic bag with the same dimensions will cost Rs. 2.”
To produce the bags, all raw materials are converted into a liquid form. Then, the mixture is taken through a six-step procedure to produce the final project. The business employs about 60 people in Bangalore, and the factory produces about 1,000 metric tonnes of bags every month. Aswath explains how he and his team are inspired to empower farmers in rural Karnataka by sourcing all materials from them. “We are also planning to distribute seeds to help them produce the amount of materials required to make the bags,” he says.
The EnviGreen bags are only available in Qatar and Abu Dhabi at present, but the innovator intends to produce and distribute them in numerous locations in the future. Says the 25-year-old:
“Just the city of Bangalore consumes over 30,000 metric tonnes of plastic bags every month. So we want to set up enough manufacturing facilities before we start distributing to individual customers and local kirana shop owners. We have started supplying to corporate retail chains like Metro and Reliance, which will start using the bags from December this year.”
Every year, humans generate enough plastic waste to circle the globe four times. Hopefully, this edible and 100% biodegradable product will help to remedy the issue. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!