Edible plastic

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These plastic bags are actually made of potato & tapioca which can become animal food on disposal.

The ban on plastic bags in several Indian cities is often lauded as a welcome move by most people. As it should be! But if you ask those who cannot afford alternatives like cloth bags worth Rs. 5 or Rs. 15 to carry a kilogram of sugar can be a juggling act. It was this problem faced by ordinary citizens that disturbed Ashwath Hegde, a Mangalore-born but now Qatar-based NRI entrepreneur.

After researching the problem for about four years, Ashwath founded EnviGreen – a company that produces 100% organic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly bags. The company uses 12 ingredients, including potato, tapioca, corn, natural starch, vegetable oil, banana, and flower oil.

All the raw materials are first converted into liquid form and then taken through a six-step procedure to make the end product.

It look like plastic bags but are made of materials like natural starch and vegetable oil derivatives. If placed in a glass of water at normal temperature, bag dissolved in a day & when placed in a glass of boiling water, it will dissolve in just 15seconds! These bags take less than 180 days to degrade naturally once discarded. So users can throw them away without worrying about effects on environment & animal, the bags are edible and will cause no harm to animals.

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“We don’t use any chemicals at all. Even the paint used for printing on the bags is natural and organic,” says Ashwath. He adds that the cost of one EnviGreen bag is about 35% more than that of a plastic bag, but 500% less than that of a cloth bag. “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”.

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which has approved theuse of these bags, conducted several tests to ensure there were no plastic elements in it. They have been tested by the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering & Sriram Institute for Industrial Research as well.

To prove his point, Ashwath has even consumed a bag after boiling it in water to show that it is edible.

With his team of 60 people, Ashwath has now set up a factory in Bangalore that produces 1,000 metric tonnes of bags every month. “We had this unique idea of empowering farmers in rural Karnataka by sourcing all our raw 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.

Currently, the company has not started full-fledged sales in India, but the bags are already available in Qatar and Abu Dhabi.We have started supplying to corporate retail chains like Metro and Reliance. They need to set up more manufacturing units before distributing it to the individual customers and local kirana shop owners.

According to the Ministry of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change 15,000 tones of plastic waste is generated in India every day, out of which 9,000 tones is collected and processed, while 6,000 tones is not processed.

EnviGreen bags will not just ease this problem but also help many consumers to compete to find a balance between their concern for the environment and ways of making things more comfortable in their daily lives. Source envigreen.in

By Astha Kumari
Student@Delhi University

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