Recently the large-scale production and use of plastic bags have caused widespread damage to our environment and wildlife. An Indonesian company has emerged as an unexpected savior from these extensive damages. The company has come up with an eco-friendly alternative of plastic bags with the use of cassavas. These disposable plastic products do not take days or weeks but thousands of years to decompose.
As per the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), cassavas are considered as a significant source of calories after rice and maize in the tropic regions of the world.
Kumala after carrying out his long research met a plant which can be used as an alternative to the petroleum plastic bags. The plant is grown abundantly in Indonesia that is around 15 to 20 m tonnes every year. By using the same processes and tools including a blow molding machine, a sealing machine, and a cutting machine used for petroleum bags, he was able to come up with bags made from cassava starch.
The company has used starch from the tropical shrub to produce a variety of products which are biodegradable, harmless as well as compostable. The products range from compostable coffee cups to wooden cutlery.
As per Kevin Kumala, the co-founder of the company, “Avani is embarking on a mission to combat the global plastic epidemic.” These plastic bags take up to 100 days for decomposing also, they are found to be readily soluble in hot water. “Obviously, to create a bio-plastic, you have to be very careful with the price in order to make it economical.” The current price of each bag is 5 cents which is twice the cost of a normal plastic bag.
The world oceans are currently saturating with plastic bags and if this increasing rate continues, there are higher possibilities of seeing oceans all around the world being overweighted by plastic more than fish till 2050. People of Southeast Asia are alleged to be one of the possible causes of these problems.
As per the report originated by US-based Ocean Conservancy, there are 5 major contributors in filling the more than half of the land with plastic. These five countries include China, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam. One of the other major contributors to this problem is tourism in Bali. 150 million tourists visits Bali every year boosting the economy but 40% of these tourists cause extensive damage to the land.
According to Anchalee Pipattanawattankul, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, “However, the plant-based plastic may raise another alarming issue that has to do with the negative impact the product has on the environment.” Like if in case these plant-based plastics starts being produced on a large scale then “tremendous amounts of resources such as land, water and energy will be required for the production process, and this could subsequently exert an adverse effect on our food production.”
The eco-friendly bags are completely non-toxic and harmless. For promoting its wide range of products, the company has started its widespread campaign known as “I Am Not Plastic.” According to the Publication of Southeast Asia Globe Kumala came up with this idea after visiting Bali following a decade in the US, he found the beautiful beaches covered in lots of trash.
“When I went surfing or diving it was not a pleasure for me – I found plastic in every place I went to Bali and that became something that frustrated me.”
After observing this scenario, Kumala the biologist decided to overcome the issue by replacing the petroleum plastic bags, as he firmly believed that it is just “too late to change our habits.” He stated that these eco-friendly bags should be made economically viable and in order to achieve this, the price of the bags should be reconsidered.