Now you see them, now you don’t: Biodegradable bags are here

By Athenkosi Sawutana

In response to a call for environment-friendly packaging, a company called Lension SA has ventured into producing biodegradable plastics. With its roots in Singapore, the company recently established a factory in South Africa.

“Our plant at the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) has been operational and producing biodegradable plastic bags for several weeks now,’’ says Raquel Paganini, the company’s sales director.

Having manufactured and sold plastic bags all over the world for the past 40 years, the company realised that eco-friendly plastics are essential for the future of the planet. Also, consumers are increasingly looking for eco-friendly products. 

Paganini says the company uses a special substance in the production of the plastics.

“This additive creates a bio-film, which attracts microbes and enables these microbes to digest or eat the plastic bonds so that the plastic ceases to exist,” she explains.

According to Paganini, these plastic bags are fully recyclable.

“Our bags do not fragment or make microbeads (tiny bits of plastic),” she says.

Paganini adds that even though the bags are pricey to produce, experience has helped the company to cut costs.

“The additive that creates the biofilm is very expensive, but our ability to produce high volumes in a cost-effective process which we have perfected for over four decades, added to the incentives we have in the IDZ,” says Paganini.

 This enables the company to produce a biodegradable bag at the same price as a conventional non-biodegradable bag.

In a country where plastic pollution is a big problem, why aren’t we seeing more of these plastic bags in stores?

“Many chain-stores are locked into long-term contracts with existing suppliers,” she says. 

“There is also a lot of confusion in the marketplace about biodegradability,” adds Paganini.

She says a lot of people cannot differentiate between oxo-biodegradable and biodegradable plastics. According to her, the former fragment and cause damage as they do not fully break down in landfills.

 

 

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