Water-soluble plastic to help prevent pollution – expert

A bag that dissolves in water could soon replace plastics that are causing massive pollution.

Solubag Africa, a world-leading environmental solutions expert, is using a new technology to produce bags that dissolve when they come into contact with water. They don't leave behind any toxic or polluting residues.

Solubag is a group of global companies formed by eco-conscious Chilean scientists, entrepreneurs and managers.

Solubag Africa co-founder George Jomo said, "One of the main ingredients of these products is maize cob. This means we will be getting raw material from nature to save nature."

The other ingredient is polyvinyl alcohol, he said.

Jomo said Kenya is set to become the hub of the new product in Africathat has been adopted in countries such as the US, Canada, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey and Germany.

He said Chilean scientist Roberto Astete invented the Solubag and has been “kind and gracious enough” to allow them to showcase the products in the country.

Jomo said the new technology is being used to make personal protective equipment such as masks, planters and carrier bags.

He said they sustain three or four big clients like Carrefour and Safaricom because their orders are huge.

The new product was on February 27 used to plant 193 indigenous trees, representing all the UN member states.

The trees were planted in a portion of City Park forest named UNEP corner.

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko led the tree-planting drive. Environment PS Chris Kiptoo and Kenya Forest Service chief conservator Julius Kamau were present.

Water-soluble plastic to help prevent pollution – expert

Astete said his products feel like plastic but are not plastic.

“This is a 100 per cent environment-friendly material,” he said.

Astete said non-plastic or carrier bags dissolve when placed in hot water of at least 85°C.

Solubag dissolves within five minutes, he said.

Astete said if the bag is thrown into the trash and mixed with other waste, it does not harm the environment.

This is because it decomposes within 180 days and only natural substances remain, he said.

Astete said they recommend dissolving the non-plastic carrier bag separately in a container, as it contains cotton thread that can cause problems in the washing machine or the dishwasher.

"Do not flush the non-toxic bag or carrier bag into the toilet, wash basin or other sinks where the water does not reach 85°C. In this case, the bag will not dissolve immediately, but the slow degradation process will begin and the pipes will get clogged."

He said if one accidentally drinks the solution containing a dissolved non-toxic bag, he or she will not be harmed as only carbon and a small number of harmless substances remain in the water.

The new technology comes as the world races against time to seek solutions to plastic pollution.

The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly concluded March 2, with UN member states adopting 14 resolutions to strengthen actions for nature to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

The resolution that received a lot of attention was the one on plastic pollution that has grown into an epidemic.

After vigorous negotiations, the assembly unanimously agreed to develop a legally binding treaty, a move Kenya backed.