Earth’s facing a huge problem in the form of pollution. This pollution is causing climate change that is affecting all of us. An Indian startup, EnviGreen, has come up with an alternative to plastic bags. This combination of vegetable oils and natural starch feels and looks like plastic. However, it is 100% organic and biodegradable. In fact, you could even eat it to dispose of it.
EnviGreen founder, Ashwath Hedge, came up with the idea when he saw people looking for alternatives to plastic bags. This was following the bans imposed by a number of Indian cities on plastic bags. He says, “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.” So, the 25 year old founder of EnviGreen began working on finding an alternative.
Hedge spent a total of 4 years carrying out research and experiments with a number of materials. Finally, he discovered a mix of 12 ingredients that served his purpose. The mix included tapioca, potato, corn, vegetable oil, natural start, flower oil and banana. This mix looked and felt just like plastic minus all the environmental problems associated with it. The manufacturing process is a secret, however, he did tell that the raw materials are converted into liquid form first and then undergo a 6-stage process for the creation of bags.
An EnviGreen bag costs about 35% higher when compared to a conventional plastic bag. However, the benefits are far greater. EnviGreen bags biodegrade naturally in under 180 days after discarding. If you place them in water at room temperature, the bags dissolve in under a day. If you place them in boiling water, the dissolving takes place in 15 seconds.
Ashwath says, “We don’t use any chemicals at all. Even the paint used for printing on the bags is natural and organic.” He also claims that the EnviGreen bags can be ingested without any harm. He in fact, demonstrated this by soaking a bag in water and then gulping it down.
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has approved EnviGreen bags for commercial use. The approval was given following extensive tests. The bags do not contain any hazardous material and do not melt, drip or release toxic fumes when burnt.
EnviGreen has a factory up and running in Bangalore where the production amounts to 1,000 metric tons of eco-friendly bags per month. This number isn’t much considering that city of Bangalore uses over 30,000 metric tons of plastic bags per month. However, the company is working towards higher production numbers. As of now, EnviGreen bags are being supplied to corporate retail chains such as Reliance and Metro.
Ashwath plans on using EnviGreen bags to provide support to local farming industry. He said, “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.”
This is a great initiative to minimize pollution. We hope that it gains enough traction in India and helps the country to combat pollution in an effective manner. You can find out more about EnviGreen on its website.