Materials such as potato starch or polyvinyl alcohol are emerging as ecological substitutes for petroleum derivatives, according to experts from Spanish companies consulted by Efe on the occasion of the international day free of plastic bags.
According to Greenpeace data, plastic pollution in the sea amounts to 12 million tons of garbage, but the solution to this global problem could lie with several Spanish companies that work with similar but biodegradable materials and therefore do not pollutants.
In this context, the Green Cycles project develops its activities, a Valencian company that intends to replace single-use plastic bags with others made from polyvinyl alcohol, a material that “has all the advantages of plastic but none of its environmental drawbacks, “Elena Moreno, director of the initiative, explained to Efe.
Among its benefits is its water-soluble nature, since it dissolves in water “without becoming microplastics”, and its ability to? decompose by the action of “biological agents such as plants, animals, microorganisms and fungi”.
At the end of their life cycle, these sustainable bags “transform into CO2, water, mineral salts and fertilizer”, so they “are safe, non-toxic, and are integrated” into cycles of the environment. “
Could polyvinyl alcohol be used as a sustainable substitute for grocery or laundry bags, gloves or detergent dispensing bags? ? Among other non-recyclable supplies that “have considerably increased their sales during the pandemic,” Moreno recalled.
In the context of a health crisis, it could also contribute to controlling the spread of the virus in hospitals and industrial laundries, since the bags made with this material “are introduced directly into the washing machine and are dissolved without no one has to handle or manage it as waste. ”
Raw materials like grass paper, jute, potato starch, bamboo? or? Organic hemp are other candidates to gradually replace plastic as the main component of the bags, according to Colotrama, a Majorcan startup that aims to? ? Consolidate itself as “an alternative to plastic and the inks that its printing gives off”.
The market for cloth bags is “increasingly powerful, although many times it is not linked to a? Greater? Ecological awareness”, indicated one of the promoters of the project, Teresa García.
Colotrama aims to avoid waste by giving priority to “artisan processes and the local economy” to favor suppliers and distributors in the region “and, thereby, mobilize our economy,” says García who, together with the other founder of this company, Lis Mir has launched a crowdfunding campaign with which she hopes to raise “5,600 euros in 39 days” to finance the necessary machinery of the workshop and the necessary materials.
The European Parliament has announced that in 2021 the ban on single-use plastic bags will enter into force throughout the Old Continent, while in Spain a Royal Decree prohibits from 2018 the free distribution of light bags of single use.
However, the entities that make up the Zero Waste Alliance – including Friends of the Earth, Ecologists in Action and Greenpeace – believe that this Royal Decree is “insufficient” and proposes, to achieve the objectives of the European Directive, “measures more restrictive “and radical, including more taxes and prohibitions on all bags” regardless of the material “with which they are made.
For these organizations, “the only sustainable solution” is to encourage reusable alternatives to replace single-use bags “whatever the material.”