What are the alternatives to plastic bags? Paper, jute or cloth bags, right? Well, there is soon going to be another viable option. Ashwath Hegde, a 25-year-old Qatar-based Mangalorean has come up with an alternative – bags that look like plastic but are made of vegetable waste and tapioca. Yes, you read that right!
Ashwath, all of 25, came up with EnviGreen Biotech India (P) Ltd. to market this ingenious product. The research was started in the year 2012 by a team of researchers and after four years of hard work, they came up with 100 per cent organic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly bags. “The motivation behind this venture is to bridge the gap that was created after Mangalore City Corporation banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of plastic bags in the year 2012. No alternatives were floated in the market once the ban was put in place. The other alternatives – cloth, paper, jute – were not cost-effective for the poor. So I started looking for options in this direction,” says Ashwath. According to him, an EnviGreen bag measuring 13 inches by 16 inches roughly costs Rs. 3, while a plastic bag with the same dimensions costs Rs. 2, whereas a cloth bag or good quality paper bag costs somewhere between Rs 5 to 15.
These ‘Unplastic’ bags (the term coined by EnviGreen) are made from natural starch and vegetable oil derivatives which are first converted into liquid and then taken through a six-step procedure to get the final product. These bags are biodegradable within 180 days and are non-toxic. Moreover, they go back to the soil from where they are sourced, completing the renewability cycle. What’s more, these bags have been given a thumbs up by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board after several tests. No only that, EnviGreen empowers rural Karnataka farmers by procuring raw materials from them for their Bangalore-based factory.