As the global epidemic of plastic bag pollution continues to cause widespread damage to the environment and wildlife, an Indonesian company has developed an eco-friendly alternative with the use of cassavas.
Bali-based Avani Eco says its “groundbreaking technology” enables it to replace the otherwise disposable plastic products which take hundreds and even thousands of years to decompose.
Cassava is the third most important source of calories in the tropics after rice and maize, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Avani has now used starch from the tropical shrub to create a range of products, which it says are biodegradable, compostable, and do not cause harm to animals.
The products include compostable coffee cups, paper straws, eco ponchos, and wooden cutlery.
“Avani is embarking on a mission to combat the global plastic epidemic,” co-founder Kevin Kumala says in a video on the company’s website.
“The global plastic waste currently stands at 300 million tonnes annually. While the slow trickle of education of ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ is carried out, ‘replace’ inevitably becomes an immediate solution.
“By using entirely raw materials derived from renewable resources, Avani products have become a proven immediate solution in striving for a cleaner and greener world.”
In the video, Kumala demonstrates how the bag dissolves almost instantly upon being placed in lukewarm water. He then proceeds to drink the water, explaining the product is entirely non-toxic.
The company has started a global campaign to promote its products called “I Am Not Plastic”.
Avani recently won a Most Valued Business award in Indonesia for its commitment to ethical and responsible practises.
Publication Southeast Asia Globe reported Kumala’s idea came about after he returned to Bali following a decade in the US to find once-beautiful beaches that were covered in trash.
“When I went surfing or diving [it] was not a pleasure for me – I found plastic in every place I went in Bali and that became something that frustrated me,” Kumala was quoted as saying.
The biologist then got to work on a solution. Believing that it was “too late to change our habits”, he focused his efforts on finding a replacement for plastic bags made from petroleum.
He said the price-point would be a key factor to make the eco bags economically viable, but also noted that cassava supply in Indonesia still outpaced demand.