16 Mai 2011

Areca farmers see revival, thanks to bioplastics

Bioplastic bags as a packing material for ladoos and gutkas

Lady Luck finally smiled upon Karnataka’s arecanut farmers, giving the much-needed boost to the gutka industry that suffered a serious blow after the Centre issued a notification against the use of plastic pouches and wrappers for gutkas. This had forced many producers to end manufacturing and stop procuring arecanut from farmers.

It was Dipack Sangghvi’s train of thought that prevented this industry from going downhill. His passion for finding an alternative to non-biodegradable plastic packaging gave a new lease of life to the arecanut farmers and, in extension, the gutka industry.

Sangghvi terms his biodegradable bag a “bioplastic”. This is because the product is biodegradable and will turn into compost 180 days after it comes into contact with the soil. Moreover, the bags that will be made out of 30-micron thick material do not cause harm to the environment.

“I found that India uses 900,000 tonnes of environmentally harmful materials such as polyethylene to produce plastic carry bags. They end up as litter and hardly any of them are recycled. Even the machinery used for recycling is expensive,” said Sangghvi who is now the director of Ahmedabad-based Greendiamz Biotech, which has bagged several interesting projects.

Impressed by its biodegradable qualities of the new biopolymer, even the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Trust (TTDT) has decided to switch over from common plastic carry bags to Sangghvi’s bioplastic bags as a packing material for the popular Tirupathi ladoos that are handed over to devotees.

“We recently signed a deal with the TTDT. The deal came after the TTDT decided to ban the use of plastic bags in the temple premises to show its solidarity towards making the holy abode environmentally sustainable. Greendiamz bagged the order in February through a pan-India competitive bidding process. We will now be supplying 25 lakh bags, made from its proprietary “TrueGreen” bio-degradable film, every month. These will be used in the packaging of ladoos that will be given as prasadam to devotees,” said Sangghvi.

More than 50,000 devotees visit the Tirupati Balaji temple daily and on weekends the number crosses a lakh. “The use of these bags will make a huge impact and reduce the use of plastic bags,” said a functionary of the TTDT from Hyderabad. “My products have been tested and certified by European Standard EN 13432 and other organisations like CIPET (Chennai), Indian Institute of packaging (Mumbai) and BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards),” Sangghvi said.

Not just gutkas and ladoos, shortly even milk cartons, medicine, chocolates, garbage bags, and nursery linings will start using this biodegradable packaging.

Source: DNA India, 2011-05-16.

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