In 2002 Bangladesh was the first country to ban the use of plastic bags, many countries since have followed suit, others are currently legislating about the ban. The distribution chains and the consumers had to find alternatives. Some of the commonly used alternatives are single-use paper bags, reusable textile bags, reusable mesh bags, and reusable plastic bags made of woven or non-woven polypropylene. We are most interested in bioplastic bags.
The Italian company Novamont is producing alternative bioplastic bags from a material called Master-Bi. Master-Bi is produced on the basis of renewable materials like starches, cellulose, vegetable oils, and their combinations. The final product is a biodegradable and compostable bioplastic. Master-Bi holds several European and international certifications, including the certification for home composting (OK Compost Home Cerification).
In 2014, Kevin Kumala from Indonesia founded a company called Avani Eco and created a bioplastic made of cassava starch, vegetable oil, and organic resins. His material is biodegradable and compostable, degrading in months in soil or at sea, but it dissolves instantly in hot water. The company produces bioplastic bags and other products such as cups, bowl, and cutlery.
Lucy Hughes created MarinaTex as her final project at The University of Sussex. MarinaTex is a bioplastic translucent and flexible sheet material that biodegrades naturally in 4 to 6 weeks, it is even proven to be able to degrade in home compost piles. And as it is made from fish skins and scales and will not cause harm to wildlife if consumed. MarinaTex is used to produce bioplastic bags, single-use packaging, and other applications.
In Egypt, the researchers from the Nile University in collaboration with bioengineers at the University of Nottingham are attempting to use waste shrimp shells to produce a degradable biopolymer that is biodegradable, suitable, and most importantly affordable for shopping bags and the food packaging.
On the other hand, other alternative plastic bags are fabricated using EPI technology which enables them to break down much faster than conventional plastic bags. These are made on the same basis as conventional plastic bags (eg. polyethylene), but with the addition of biodegradable TDPA™ which accelerates the reaction of polymer molecules with oxygen in the air by several orders, making TDPA™ products degrade within a few weeks to 1-2 years.