Tanzania has banned petroleum-based single-use plastic bags (PB) in June 2019 in order to address its negative environmental impact. As a result of the ban, approximately 30 companies had to shut down operations and over 60,000 jobs were lost. Despite a clear environmental gain as a result of strictly banning single use plastic bags in Tanzania, there is a growing economic loss. As a result of the ban, one such local company that got 32% of its revenue from the sales of single use plastic bags had to shut down 80% of its operation and lay off 21 staff from employment.
Plant based plastic-type bags: Biodegradable, Compostable Bags (BCB) having Cassava (Manihot esculenta) starch as the major component.
KilimOrgano Limited will modify the front end of its existing plastic manufacturing facility to accommodate biodegradable, compostable film technology (BCT) using cassava starch as one of the key components. In this case, the cost of producing BCB will be cheaper than non-woven and cloth bags. The company has identified and adopted a technology that can produce biodegradable, compostable resins (BCR) needed to produce BCB using cassava starch. The film produced will be biodegradable, compostable such that within 180 days up to 90% of plastic is going to decompose to mother nature in the form of organic matter. The bag will meet approved Tanzanian environmental regulations and scientific standards ASTM D6400, ASTM D6868 and EN13432.
The company will manufacture two products:
- Biodegradable, compostable bags which will be sold to wholesalers.
- Biodegradable, compostable resins (produced from a mixture of Cassava starch, Polylactic acid (PLA) and Polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT)) sold to thirty local manufacturers of PB to enable them to begin manufacturing BCB using their existing machinery.
Biodegradable polymers have gained significant research attention in recent years due to their environmentally friendly nature; however, their uptake absorption into the market has been slow due to high production costs. Raw materials needed to produce biodegradable, compostable bags are obtained from Polylactic acid (PLA), Polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and starch. To reduce the cost of granules and improve physical and chemical properties, we intend introducing cassava starch as the key raw material along with biodegradable granules such as PBAT, PLA and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). Cassava starch is abundant and inexpensive, and it is produced from the cassava tubers. Cassava is widely grown in Tanzania and East African countries.