Biodegradable bags may help solve India’s trash problem

The partial or total ban on plastic bags in several Indian cities is often lauded as a welcome move by most people. But there is a downside to it, an acute lack of convenience. Other alternatives such as cloth bags are simply not versatile enough to replace plastic bags on a mass scale. Being non-biodegradable, the plastic simply accumulates and is massively adding to India’s trash problem.

But, this may soon be history. Ashwath Hegde, a Mangalore-born but now Qatar-based NRI entrepreneur has founded EnviGreen- a company that produces 100% organic, biodegradable and eco-friendly bags.

They look like plastic bags but are made of materials like natural starch and vegetable oil derivatives. If placed in a glass of water at normal temperature, an EnviGreen bag dissolves in a day. And when placed in a glass of boiling water, it dissolved in just 15 seconds! These bags take less than 180 days to biodegrade naturally once discarded. So users can throw them away without worrying about harming the environment. The bags are even edible and will cause no harm to animals if ingested.

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which has approved the use of these bags, conducted several tests to ensure there were no plastic elements in them. They have been tested by the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Sriram Institute for Industrial Research as well.

With his team of 60 people, Ashwath has now set up a factory in Bangalore that produces 1,000 metric tonnes of bags every month. Currently, the company has not started full-fledged sales in India, but the bags are already available in Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

Once available for use, EnviGreen bags will not just help ease this problem but also help many consumers struggling to find a balance between their concern for the environment and ways of making things more comfortable in their daily lives. It also promises to drastically reduce the plastic footprint of India and help to achieve the ambitious Swacch Bharat mission.