Startup WAVE creates plastic bags from cassava plants

On the run from WAVE; This Dutch start-up has created a biodegradable bag to match traditional plastic ones. Here’s how…

All the plastic that has ever been made is still on planet earth.

Since being mass-produced in the 1950s, 8.3bn tonnes of plastic has been made. In varying strengths, thicknesses and designs it has been created to fulfil the needs of the modern world. 

Much plastic waste is unrecycled and buried in landfill, floating in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch or lying at the deepest part of our ocean floor

Depending on the thickness, it is estimated that plastic takes tens to hundreds of years to decompose. 

This is because the hydrocarbons which plastic is made from, are not vulnerable to rot. 

Even when plastic has decomposed, the micro-plastics from the original item that are too small for the naked eye to identify, will still exist. 

Microplastics have already been discovered in fishfruit and vegetables

Dutch-based startup WAVE, has ‘#zeroplastic’ high on its agenda and wants to offer the world an alternative to the familiar plastic bag.

Who is WAVE

At WAVE, we are driven by a genuine commitment to change the environment for the better, by providing green solutions and products that are within everyone’s reach […] Every day we roll up our sleeves in a crusade against plastic, each conventional plastic bag less is a battle won!” say the team

The startup refrains from using plastic polymers in their plastic bags, which are harmful to the environment. WAVE’s biodegradable bag, therefore, contributes to a carbon-neutral environment. 

What are WAVE plastic bags and how do they work

To sight and touch, WAVE bags are just like regular plastic. They also match their strength capabilities. 

Despite this, it is safe for WAVE bags to be digested by animals (although this is not advisable and WAVE bags are not a substitute for pet food). 

The plastic is made with a polymer found in cassava starch. 

Whether buried in landfill or soil, or in water, macro- and micro-organisms aid in the dissolution of the bags. However, shoppers who take the bus will be pleased to hear that the bags do not dissolve in the rain. 

What is Cassava?

Cassava is a root vegetable which bears a strong physical resemblance to sweet potatoes, only narrower. 

The plant is popular in the Caribbean, Latin America and throughout Indonesia (where it goes by a number of local names, such as “yuka”). 

Cassava is used in bread, chips and flour. I can also be steamed, fried or boiled and eaten as it is – yet it is poisonous if consumed raw. 

In comparison to its cousin, the white potato, it has more protein and double the calories. 

Plastic ideas

As previously reported in CleanTech News, innovators across the world are working hard to create sustainable items that can match our fast-paced lives, whilst not causing harm to the planet. 

Australian teenager, Angeline Arora, has created a bioplastic which is made from prawns. The bags take only 33 days to decompose, instead of 10 years (or less if mistakenly eaten by fish).

Click here to read more about carbon-neutral inventions which are protecting the planet from excess plastic. 

Helen Adams

Helen Adams is an Editor and Senior Writer for CleanTech News. A keen journalist, Helen developed an appreciation for the need for change in the battle against climate change after travelling and is passionate to communicate this through her work at CleanTech News. Now studying for her NCTJ Journalism MA, Helen wants to champion clean developments using her writing. Presently, Helen is developing her data journalism, video-making and podcasting skills which she is looking forward to incorporating into her role as Editor.