India generates over 5.6 million metric tons of plastic waste annually. And the consequences of it are far from a mystery. Landfills and water bodies continue to choke on plastic waste. While plastic bottles take anywhere around 70-450 years to decompose, a plastic bag takes a whopping 500-1000 years.
And even though plastic bags below 50 microns were banned across the country, several parts of different states continue to use it. One of the prime reasons for this is the lack of availability of a viable alternative for plastic bags.
To cater to this existing void in the market, the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) launched its bio-compostable bags, an alternative to polythenes in association with a Bengaluru firm, Regeno Ventures.
These bio-compostable bags have a shelf life of three months and are made using tapioca, a type of starch extracted from cassava root.
The cassava roots are biodegradable and compostable, and therefore allow the bags to turn into soil in a matter of a few months, reported NDTV.
In addition, when disposed of in hot water, these bags dissolve in it without leaving any trace of toxic residue. Also, when burnt, they turn into ash.
The rationale behind the move to introduce these bags is to make the city plastic free
“We hope these bags can prove to be a viable alternative,” says Santosh Kumar, Chief Health Officer, CCMC.
While an individual piece is 20% more expensive than cheap plastic bags, these biodegradable bags, when bought in bulk, can be affordable. The current target audience therefore to make the big switch is the merchant community.
To promote more and more traders to switch to this eco-friendly alternative, the CCMC under its Smart City Mission, organised an exhibition on packaging, which had several hoteliers, eatery owners and caterers and representatives of the Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) in attendance.
The change reflects the fact that the Hotel Owners Association of Coimbatore and Caterers’ Association of Coimbatore has already pledged to switch over to these starch-based eco-friendly bags. Also, the Indian Plastic Institute – Coimbatore Chapter has placed an order and will soon be using them on a trial basis for three months.