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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

A biodegradable bag to end the reign of plastic

Ritam Halder , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 05, 2013
First Published: 00:42 IST(5/7/2013) | Last Updated: 03:13 IST(5/7/2013)

Imagine a plastic bag which will vanish completely if you keep it out in the open for some months and will not even harm the environment. It would be akin to a dream of staunch environmentalists which a Delhi resident is set to turn into reality.

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Arun Sinha, along with US-based Global Exchange Technologies Inc, is getting GXT ECOgrade Photodegradable Bags — recyclable, non-toxic and degrades by exposure to sunlight — for the vast market looking for a viable option ever since the government has been trying to enforce the ban on plastic.

"This is the right solution to the plastic bag pollution challenge as it breaks down in 40 days, becoming the only viable solution to litter. It completely degrades into a non-toxic residue in less than 240 days. Made from 46 per cent natural materials, these bags emit 35% less greenhouse gas in resin production and 15% less greenhouse gas in bag manufacture," Sinha, 59, said.

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A resident of south Delhi's Alaknanda, this St Stephen's College graduate, through his NGO, Society to Create Awareness towards Life & Environment (SCALE), has been on the warpath against plastic for the past 11 years.

"We got into this project because it will benefit the country. The ECOgrade bags - which is ASTM D5272 and D5208 Test Certified in the US and CIPT, Chennai and has passed both the US and Canadian heavy metal test according to BPI standards — is the only degradable product which is compatible to the recycling chain. The gamechanger, however, is that it costs around the same as a plastic bag," the activist said adding that once largescale production is started, these bags will be cheaper than plastic ones.

"That is the reason Arun invited us to India. In Delhi, we have already started manufacturing in a factory in Bawana," said Manas Chatterjee, president and CEO of Global Exchange Technologies Inc. They plan to meet chief minister Sheila Dikshit to give her an overview of the ECOgrade bags.

In 2009, the Delhi government banned use of plastic bags on the directive of the Delhi High Court. Last year, the government also banned its manufacturing. Manufacturers moved the high court against the ban. The Delhi pollution control committee is awaiting a court verdict. The government hopes the ban will return, at least on the use of plastic bags.

"We support the ban but a viable alternative should be there; something which is neither expensive, nor harmful. The ban on plastic bags can cost over 1,00,000 jobs. Around 400 units will be closed. This will bring in a tremendous amount of social stress. We will create job opportunities in Delhi and the NCR and provide support of over R1000 crore in economic activity and tax revenue," Sinha added.


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