Cassava Bioplastic: Dissolvable and drinkable ‘plastic’ straight out of Bali

Bali is plagued with plastic. 

Plastic litters the island’s beautiful beaches and clogs sewers. 

Hoping to bring a solution to the table, a man in Bali has apparently come up with a biodegradable and compostable ‘plastic’ material—made from cassava—that dissolves in hot water and is even safe for consumption. 

This is the same guy behind those eco-friendly biowear ponchos and biodegradable packaging you can find around Bali. 

Using cassava starch, vegetable oil, and organic resins for the bio-plastic, local surfer and entrepreneur Kevin Kumala even drank a glass of his own cassava plastic material to show that he and his social enterprise, Avani, are not just making claims. 

Filmmaker Gary Bencheghib (who has also produced work on the controversial Benoa Bay reclamation) captured the moment for an epsiode of his online series, #PickUpAPieceOfTrash. 

 

 

“I wanted to show this bioplastic would be so harmless to sea animals that a human could drink it,” Kumala said, as quoted by CNN. “I wasn’t nervous because it passed an oral toxicity test.”

Kumala is working towards the same goal as the “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” Green School students, who have pressured the governor to ban plastic bags in Bali by 2018. 

“The government is supporting us and we are working with them to create a roadmap to be plastic-free by 2018,” Kumala told CNN. “On an island like Bali it is becoming inevitable that they have to execute right away.”

Time will tell if Kumala’s cassava plastic is the solution to our giant, mega-landfill-sized plastic problem. Kumala has said he hopes biodegradable products, like those that Avani produces, will become the status quo for plastic use.

As with almost anything, one of the major challenges facing Avani is funding, though Avani has reportedly landed funding from a private equity group for the first time. 

 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article included an embedded video short on Kevin Kumala from Al Jazeera. Coconuts has since learned that the original footage comes from filmmaker Gary Bencheghib, so we have included his episode on Kumala instead. We apologize for the error. 

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