Mohammed Ashfaq, managing director of the Bengaluru-based Plastobag Industries, recalls the incident that spurred him to make biodegradable plastics. One day in 2011, when he entered his home, his 12-year-old daughter, who had just learnt about the environmental ills of plastic, berated her father, "Papa, you are polluting the entire city." That made Mr. Ashfaq want to do something that would make his daughter proud, he said. The research he began that year culminated in the commercial production of eco-friendly plastics at his factory in early 2018. Today, 35%, or more than a third, of his products are biodegradable, he said. Plastobag is one of the sixteen companies in India that have permission from the Central Pollution Control Board to make bioplastics. ('Bioplastics' is used here to mean biodegradable, although it can have other meanings). Between them, these manufacturers make carry bags, cutlery, films, food containers, and bin liners. Unlike conventional plastics, these items can be broken down by microbes in industrial composting facilities within six months. This makes them a promising, if partial, solution to India's plastic problem. Yet, these firms face big challenges in finding customers. Because most bioplastics produced globally are made from the byproducts of food… Read full this story
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