The alternative to plastic dissolves in hot water and burns like paper

A bag made of potatoes could replace plastic as the biodegradable and recyclable alternative for carry bags in the temple town of Tirupati, which is taking slow yet firm steps towards getting rid of plastic carry bags.

Tirupati has fixed October 2 — Gandhi Jayanti, and the day on which the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched — as the cut-off date for the sale and possession of plastic carry bags. Various alternatives are being contemplated. Although the raw materials for making the bag haven’t been revealed, the most likely ingredients are said to be potato and tapioca starch, vegetable oil extracts and other organic waste.

The bags making rounds in the city are produced by EnviGreen, a Bengaluru-based company. They are distributed by social organisations roped-in by the Municipal Corporation of Tirupati (MCT) to disseminate information on biodegradable carry bags to citizens.

100% plastic-free

The potato-based bag not only claims to be 100% plastic-free, it is also said to dissolve in hot water and burn like paper. As compared with regular plastic, which takes thousands of years to decompose, the potato-based bag bio-degrades in a few months. It is said to be as strong, or stronger than, a plastic carry bag.

“This bag will certainly go a long way in replacing plastic as a viable alternative, as it costs a mere ₹1.50 per bag against the ₹1 a plastic carry bag is sold for,” says K. Vijay Kiran, who is associated with Praja Vijayam, a social service organisation working on human rights and better living.

Commercially, the bag costs ₹300 per kg for traders, with varying sizes and thickness (in microns).

“The number of units in a pack comes down as the individual bags get thicker, but the unit strength increases to carry heavier loads,” a person associated with its trading told The Hindu, requesting anonymity.

Social activists expect the bag to strike it rich as the government gets serious with cracking the whip on plastic pollution.

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