The world consumes 1 million plastic shopping bags every minute and India’s plastics consumption is one of the highest in the world. It is a well known fact that plastic bags are an environmental disaster – they do not decompose naturally, they kill marine life, they clog drains and is one of the main causes of flooding, during monsoons especially, in coastal cities of India. Plastic waste piles up in the already overflowing landfills, and burning them produces bad carbon emissions which results in air pollution. So the harm effects of using more and more plastic are well established. Several cities and states have adopted the partial or total ban on plastic bags, as well. But, what has so far not been cracked is a viable alternative to plastic. It was this omnipresence of plastic that bothered Ashwath Hegde, a Mangalore-born NRI entrepreneur, who came back to India from Qatar last year after successfully finding a solution to plastic carry bags.
Today, he has supplied around 150 metric tonnes of goods made by his factory named EnviGreen in India as an alternative to different kinds of plastic products, from packaging material, plastic carry bags to aprons, there are many more products that have been made from the alternatives. Through these products,EnviGreen has efficiently reduced some 160 metric tonnes of plastic waste.
Make Way, The Future Of Plastics Is Here
The idea of doing something like this came to my mind back in 2012, when the Mangalore City Corporation implemented a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of plastic bags. It was a good step, but, was done without any preparation. I thought I will help people by giving them eco-friendly cloth bags. I distributed some 25,000 bags and was taken aback with questions of local shopkeepers – one asked me how you expect me to sell the fish in your bag, another one asked me, I sell sugar and my profit is Rs. 1, how do you think I will afford a carry bag worth Rs. 15? That’s when I decided to come up with an alternative solutions, says 26-year-old, Ashwath Hegde.
What happened next was his company EnviGreen which was founded in 2016, after 4 years of research on finding eco-friendly solutions to plastics. Today, the company is efficiently producing 100% organic, biodegradable, and environmental-friendly products.
A Look-A-Like Of Plastic Bags But Can Become Animal Food On Disposal
“During the 4 years of my research which I did along with many of my European friends where the concept of eco-friendly was known to great extent, I devolved my research based team of scientists who can dedicatedly work on the projects. The team used to do various experiments; they only give me an idea of using natural starches for making these products and I started manufacturing these products using different types of machines afterwards,” explains Ashwath.
Talking about the ingredients used in these edible products, Ashwath added, “We are using all sorts of natural starches that are easily available in the market for example, banana and potato peels. The idea is to simply make something that our planet can eat.”
These look-a-likes of plastic bags if placed in a glass of water can get dissolved in a days’ time and if burnt then will produce just Co2 and ashes and no other harmful toxic gases. Adding on to the benefits, the bags take less than 180 days to biodegrade naturally once discarded. The bags are even edible and will cause no harm to animals if ingested.
First all the raw materials are converted into liquid form and small eco-friendly pellets and then processed in different types of machines to produce various products, added Ashwath.
The products are sans chemicals; even the paint used for printing on the bags is natural and organic. Coming to the cost of one EnviGreen bag, Ashwath says, “It is about 35-40% more than that of a plastic bag, but, is currently the cheapest alternative available in India to plastics.”
The EnviGreen products have been tested by the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and have been certified as ‘safe products’ for the environment.
The Future Of Green India
EnviGreen bags are the best available solution for green and Swachh India, especially when our country is struggling with tackling its waste. Currently, the products are available in the Mangalore city alone, within the span of few months; Ashwath aims to set up enough manufacturing facilities across the country to make these bags and products, India’s solution to fight its plastic woes.
If a city adopts 100% of EnviGreen bags then the city can easily achieve its target of swachhta. Next month, we have a aim to produce 1000 metric tonnes of EnviGreen bags, this will help us reduce around 12,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste in a year from our country, said Ashwath.
Talking about the future, Ashwath, added, “Currently we are not looking at the collection of organic waste like potato and banana peels, in our next step, we will be to go to the farmers and collect waste from them.”
Let’s Kill Plastic Before It Kills Us!
I come from an agricultural based family, for me, environment is a priority. That’s should be the case with everyone. These products will be making a huge impact, but, it’s just not my efforts that will count, as a user, people need to come forward and get aware about the ill effects of plastics and should try and find out alternatives. Once we crack this, we will become a Swachh nation, signs off waste warrior, Ashwath Hegde.
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