Some Alternatives To Plastics

Although little has been done to encourage green alternatives and consumers prefer cheaper and familiar plastic options, a México state-based firm has been successfully producing corncob-based plastics for a decade. Ecoshell was invented in a classroom while founder Carlos Camacho was completing the fourth semester of his industrial engineering course.

“Corn has properties that are very similar to those of plastic, and we found that it was a product that could compete in cost and quality and offer a sustainable alternative to plastic,” the entrepreneur told the newspaper El Financiero. Camacho’s process crushes corncobs and mixes them with a starch-based biopolymer. The resulting substance is melted down and small pellets are extracted. These can be used to make bags, cups and many other bioplastic-based products and utensils. The resulting eco-friendly products are also microwave-safe. Depending on how they are disposed of, they can be gone in between 90 and 240 days.

One of Ecoshell’s first clients was Walmart, which currently purchases 300 boxes of its product every week. Other clients are supermarkets Chedraui and Superama, chain drug stores Farmacias San Pablo, restaurants including Olive Garden and Wings and hotel chains One Fiesta Americana and Mayan Palace. It looks like now that our state has banned the real deal, our Walmart and Chedraui can easily slip into the new mode. Why haven’t they done it before they’ve been forced to? Do you really have to ask?

To keep up with demand Ecoshell requires 2,000 tons of corncobs per month, which are transformed into 10 to 15 million products in the firm’s factory in the state of Mexico. (Yes, Mexico is more than a country, it’s a city and a state. Why limit the use of a good name?)

Ecoshell’s strongest market is domestic: it operates nine distribution centers and 18 warehouses throughout the country and they export to the United States, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Chile. They are currently preparing to enter the European market.

Plastic is cheap and has been on the market for a long time; people are used to it and it’s not easy for them to opt for an ecological product. Biodegradable products make up only 2% of the disposable utensil market,” said inventor Camacho. “The government has fallen behind, and there are no incentives for environmentally-friendly products. On the other hand, Querétaro, Veracruz and recently Guadalajara have stepped up.

Now it’s Baja California Sur’s time.

 

And from India comes something we never thought of

 

Cutlery made with dough from a mixture of sorghum, rice and wheat flours, mixed with hot water. There are no preservatives, chemicals, additives, coloring agents, raising agents, fat, trans fat, artificial chemical nutrition, or animal ingredients. Milk or milk products are added. These are baked to make them crisp, hard and moisture free. They are 100% natural products, 100% vegan, 100% degradable if you choose not to eat them.

They started with spoons and forks, soup spoons, dessert spoons, yogurt spoons and soon they will be making crockery as well. That would include small bowls, cups, plates and even salad bowls. Unfortunately, they were unable to make knives. Coffee stirrers and chopsticks are possible, but they would be very expensive, since these have to cool inside the molds. The other products work on energy conserving technology. These two products cannot be made under this technology and the high energy cost would make it less competitive so they will not be making them.

Since these are made with flour, they can add tastes and flavors like vanilla, strawberry, salt and pepper combination, and some with added Indian spices.

These are single use products. Once taken out of the wrapper, dipped into food and put into your mouth, they would absorb moisture and if kept for later use, microbes will start thriving on the surface and makes it unsafe.

These products are meant to be a replacement for plastic disposable cutlery and are price competitive to those. The water used to produce this edible cutlery is less than the water used for washing and reusing real cutlery. It will naturally decompose anywhere between three to seven days if insects and stray animals like dogs, cows and goats don’t eat it first. If you pour water on it and leave it in pots with soil it disintegrates faster. You can even put them in your compost pits safely.

They are exported to Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Hong Kong, USA, UK, UAE. Nope, not Mexico. But they are looking for dealers. Go to www.bakeys,com.

And in the Philippines

A company called Avani, there is an environmentally friendly solution to the Styrofoam  take-away box.

Avani claims most biodegradable bags on the market are misleading — they broke down into small pieces that were still harmful to animals and contaminated water.
Avani Bio-box is made from bagasse, the dry fibrous residue left after sugarcane stalks have been crushed to extract the juice. When the fibers already crushed, less energy is required to make bagasse products compared with pulping wood for paper products. Normally the fibers are burned as fuel but through their technology they have been able to turn waste into something of value

As the scientists at Avani worked to construct a truly sustainable and safe alternative to the plastic bag, they landed upon the cassava root, which is native to the country. In a mixture with vegetable oil, Avani was able to develop bags that were legitimately biodegradable — they rapidly dissolved in warm water — and also safe for animals to eat. ,