A plastic bag cocktail to go with your meal?
Imagine food bags and wrappings so natural that you could eat them without any danger for your health. They’re a reality from now on! Made in organic plastic, that’s to say with natural ingredients, these bags are incomparable to their processors stem from the petrochemistry industry.
Not only are they biodegradable but they’re also edible, therefore harmless to animals and to humans and perfectly respectful of the environment. The arrival of these bags in the food-processing industry could revolutionize our way of consuming while reducing the plastic waste mass, which will pollute the planet for centuries.
Organic bags made in unadulterated matter, for edible and biodegradable bags
We will never denounce enough the negative impact plastic has on the environment. However, we struggle to live without plastic despite all of our efforts. In France, the banning of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets has been in force since the beginning of the year. This measure is also implemented or about to be implemented in other countries: Canada, Morocco or even some Indian states.
All over the world, engineers and business owners get involved in the fight against plastic. Their weapon: varied natural ingredients, from vegetable origin, which are components of organic plastics. The organic plastic is this innovative material with which scientists make bags that are so biodegradable they’re edible.
Below, a non-exhaustive list of environmentally friendly bags to taste (or not), which will show you how nature has many alternatives to traditional plastic to offer.
From the French company Sphere PTL’s perspective, potatoes can compete with oil. The company is based in Seine-Maritime and is associated with the German green chemistry laboratory Biotec.
Since 2006, they operate potato starch’s potential to create organic bags. Thanks to this substance, which oils the wheels of decomposition, the bags decompose in six months in the compost or in the landfill site. Not only are they biodegradable but they are soluble in water and edible for animals.
Drinkable bags cassava-based
In India, an entrepreneur named Kevin Kumala invented a bag made using cassava, a widespread root in the country. Contrary to a classic plastic bag, you can burn it without hesitating: its combustion will not release any greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Watered down in hot water, it can be drunk by both animals and humans without being dangerous health-wise, for there isn’t any toxic substance in its composition.
With this organic bag, the business owner intends to tackle the problem caused by plastic pollution in his country. But again, the price is a bit discouraging, cassava bags being twice as expensive as plastic bags. Without a public policy encouraging the plastic waste decrease, the cassava bag only convinced a few hotels and local shops.
Fruits and vegetable cocktail bag
The secret of the organic plastic developed by the Indian entrepreneur Ashwath Hedge? Twelve natural ingredients stem from fruits and vegetable rich in starch or in fibers (corn, tapioca, potatoes, bananas), as well as vegetable oil and organic waste by-products. The mix of all these natural ingredients makes a biodegradable and edible bag.
To develop this good idea, the young entrepreneur founded a start-up, EnviGreen, in Bangalore. His green bags comply with the biodegradability standard, meaning they decompose in less than three months when they’re thrown in nature. They’re also soluble in hot water in 15 seconds and can be burnt with giving out neither carbon dioxide nor greenhouse gas. Even the writings and the logo on the bags are printed with an ink respectful of the environment, without chemical products.
The bags – commercialized and available in store since the beginning of this year – are again 35% more expensive than classic plastic bags. Anyway, the business owner has hopes to counter plastic waste pollution in India and to stimulate local agriculture by offering new opportunities to farmers.
In Mexico, students of the National Polytechnic Institute (NPI) enhanced a natural resource: corn. They developed a corn polymer bag biodegradable and edible. Indeed, the material doesn’t contain any substance which could be harmful to the health. It is soluble in water and drinkable.
It can decompose within a few days, a few months or a few years depending on the production process. This represents a great advantage for industrialists who will be able to choose the biodegradability of the plastic depending on its function (a checkout bag for example) or on the good it protects (foods for example).
The students also plan on spreading their organic plastic to other areas such as the toy manufacturing and the automobile industry. It actually has several advantages which could be useful in those fields: flexibility, non-toxicity, memory foam…
Is it THE solution to hold back pollution?
With the inflation of gas, vegetal materials are in vogue. Engineers from the entire world are getting themselves into the creation of organic plastic. We can contemplate a multitude of uses for the natural and biodegradable materials. They should eventually replace all of the plastic in our consumer goods and give a little help to the agricultural sector.
The future of green organic plastic seems guaranteed. Meanwhile, it is our role, as consumers, to avoid plastic as much as possible, to chase our efforts to recycle and reduce our waste and to encourage political decisions made in this perspective. And for lack of eating our waste, let’s make sure they’re biodegradable and harmless for the animals. Remember that plastic waste pollutes and threatens the biodiversity: turtles suffocate with waste; birds poison themselves eating plastic bits and pieces…
You can already look for ecological certification labels on your bags, indicating they can be composted and made with renewable raw materials. In Europe those labels are named: Compostable, OK compost, OK compost HOME, OK biodegradable. They are certified according to the European norm NF EN 13432, about biodegradability and ability to compost.
You can for example gravitate towards Vegeos, composed of about 30% to 50% of organic materials, available in the fruits and vegetables departments of some supermarkets; the biodegradable bags and wrappings of the brand Point E (if you live in France) ; along with the bags of the brand Alfapac, which also sells bin bags. Those brands are certified with the label OK compost HOME.
Floriane Boyer, editor for EVI.