A new material which could help solve the world’s plastic pollution problem has launched in the UAE.
The makers of Biodolomer claim it is as strong as plastic, but made entirely from natural materials.
Carrier bags made from the substance, which is 50 per cent calcium carbonate and 50 per cent plant-based, can be reused up to 60 times.
Once they are no longer needed, they break down within six to nine months on land and in water.
Anything made from the material is safe for animals to eat, even if it is not disposed of properly.
“There was a viral video of a baby camel eating a plastic bag the other day,” said David Hughes, the co-founder of Happy Dolphin, which makes a range of products, including cups, from Biodolomer.
“If that had been one of our bags, it would already have degraded in the desert within months, and if the camel had eaten it, it would be perfectly safe for it to eat.”
Research shows plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes before they are discarded.
But it takes 500 years or more for them to degrade.
Mr Hughes said carrier bags made of oxo-biodegradable plastic are harmful despite their claim to be environmental-friendly.
They include a metal salt that breaks them down quicker, but they are transformed into microplastics, which can harm marine life and get into the food chain.
Biodolomer was invented by Ake Rosen, the man behind Tetra Pak.
“We can replace 80 per cent of poisonous polluting petroleum plastic with our material,” Mr Hughes said.
“For every tonne of fossil fuel plastic replaced, 6.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide is saved with our products.”
The beauty of Biodolomer is it does not require any additional investment to make it, he said.
“It will run on current petroleum plastic machinery. So there is no big capital expenditure.”
The company was initially due to launch in the UK and Australia, but changed its plans after they brought in restrictions to stem the pandemic.
“Happy Dolphin was due to launch in the UK and Australia, but because they are closed for business we couldn’t do it,” Mr Hughes said.
“But another reason we came here, is because the government can do things big, well and very quickly.”
The UAE has made great strides against single use plastic in recent years.
Some companies have phased out the use of plastic bags in their stores, while others have begun charging for them to deter their use.
Abu Dhabi also aims to ban single-use plastic bags, straws, plastic cutlery, stir sticks, cups and lids by the end of the year.
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Published: March 23, 2021 12:11 PM