Corn starch, paper bags may harm environment, says IPI

By Times Of India on 29 Apr 2018
PUNE: Experts from the Indian Plastics Institute (IPI), a technical professional body, have cited the environmentally detrimental effect of paper, cloth and even “compostable” bags being used in place of plastic.

A study by IPI and MAEER MIT, Pune, on bags claimed to be made from corn starch, found that these bags did not contain starch in its native or modified form. Experts said that this could prove more hazardous to the environment because of absence of any “bio material”. For any composting to take place, there has to be some natural source for the growth of culture.

S Radhakrishnan, vice-president, IPI, told TOI that in order to obtain rapid degradation, special additives, which accelerate the process of oxo-degradation, are used in these bags. “These oxo-degradable plastic bags are more dangerous to the environment since the plastic or main polymer gets broken into fine powder, which gets more dispersed in the environment than in the original form. Microplastic is worse than macroparticulate sheet or plastic film since it cannot be removed and recycled. Such tiny particles go into rivers, oceans and deep soil and get accumulated. He added that producing cloth bags is also not a solution. “From hygiene point of view, paper and cloth accumulate fungus and bacteria which can cause disease,” he said.