BALI — To a world that is being choked to death by plastic waste, there is good news on the horizon. Researchers have been working on a practical and environmentally safe replacement for plastic water bottles and plastic bags.
The latest discovery from an Indonesia replaces the petroleum-based material with one using yuca plant fibre. It looks and feels like plastic but is biodegradable in the landfill and harmlessly to insects and animals. In fact, researchers have found the yucca fibres are so safe it can be dissolved in water and safely consumed by humans.
Kevin Kumala is an Indonesian entrepreneur who has been working on the problem of plastic based pollution around his home in Bali. Ocean currents bring tonnes of floating debris islands, some several miles in diameter, to the shores of Indonesia every year. The only way to get rid of it is by itineration which causes its own environmental and health issues.
“I was with a friend sitting outside a bar and we were seeing hundreds of motorcyclists wearing vinyl ponchos,” he recalls. “It clicked that these disgusting, toxic ponchos would be used a few times and then discarded, but they would not decompose.”
From that conversations, the biology graduate resolved to create a better plastic, that would leave no trace.”
His first product using non-pollutant plastic was in the form of bio-degradable rain ponchos, using his cassava (yuca) based material.
Kumala’s Evan Eco, has been selling the product worldwide but there are still some hurdles in the way before it can be made more affordable.
The U.S. alone produces a staggering 32-million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Birds and sea creatures have been endangered by these floating islands of debris for many years with plastic straws, water bottles, pop and beer can six-pack rings and more so environmentalists and animal rights groups are unified in finding a solution.