Chilean Startup Builds Solubag, a Water-Soluble Plastic Bag Replacement


Plastic bags have been the symbol of environmental pollution for a while now, and governments and organizations across the world are trying to fight this menace by enforcing alternative eco-friendly sustainable solutions, such as paper bags, reusable cloth bags, etc.

The traditional plastic takes approximately 150 to 500 years to degrade in nature, which is a terribly long time period. According to estimates, the world production of plastic material will double in the next 20 years.

Solubag: a solution to plastic pollution?

In a bid to bring an answer to our planet’s plight, a group of Chilean entrepreneurs has been analyzing a new approach to the treatment of waste that includes neither recycling or reuse, but simply accelerated degradation.

In chemistry, degradation refers to several reactions in which the organic molecules lose one or more carbon atoms, or where complex molecules are broken down into simpler ones.

With this approach, they have produced plastic bags and reusable cloths that are soluble in water and leave no pollutants.

Solubag SpA’s makes all its products from a material that disintegrates in contact with cold or hot water. The formulation of the raw material determines the temperature of degradation.

The material is polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), which degrades rapidly when in contact with water and does not pollute.

It is 100% environment-friendly. SGS studied it for 19 types of heavy metals and 17 types of plasticizers banned by the European Union.

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company. The material’s bio-degradation speed is ≥ 90% in only 180 days. Or just several minutes, if you add water.

Roberto Astete and Cristian Olivares, the general manager and the commercial manager of Solubag, expect to begin its marketing in Chile in October.

Chile is one of the first countries in Latin America to prohibit the use of conventional plastic bags in stores.

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Bolsa soluble SOLUBAG en acción !!

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Solubag is safe enough to eat

At a demonstration in Santiago in July 2018, the creators of this product showed how the formula works. They dissolved their plastic bags in cold water and reusable cloth bags in hot water.

“What remains in the water is carbon,” Astete said, adding that medical tests show that it “has no effect on the human body.”

In order to demonstrate its harmlessness, he drank a glass of water in which the bag dissolved.

“It’s like making bread. To make bread you need flour and other ingredients. Our flour is polyvinyl alcohol and other elements approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), that have allowed us to create a prime material to make different products,” Astete said.

Solubag offers solutions for everyday use, including shopping bags, garbage bags, textiles, and more.

How the company plans to explain what happens to the material when it rains, remains for us to see.

Video demonstration

Photo credit: The feature image “Letting Go of Some Baggage” has been done by Joel Penner.
Source: Melissa Kitson (El Pais)
Editorial notice. The feature image is showing a generic plastic bag and not a Solubag due to  lack of press material.

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Sead Fadilpasic
Sead Fadilpasic
Freelance writer / journalist / blogger. Tech enthusiast and gadget freak. Guitarist. Previously Al Jazeera journalist.
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