Biodegradable plastic launched in Nepal

A Nepali company has tried to address the growing problem of plastic pollution in Nepal by manufacturing biodegradable plastic products.

The Nepal government has tried and failed several times to impose a ban on single-use plastic, and the throwaway items have clogged drains and rivers across the country. Many of these take more than 500 years to decompose in dumping sites.

Now, Kathmandu-based Jain Trading Concern is introducing plastic bags and other items that degrade within three months of disposal. Although this does not reduce the use of plastic, environmentalists say it is a first step in reducing the amount of garbage on landfill sites, dumping sites and rivers.

Biodegradable plastic bags, garbage bags, straw, fork, spoon, grocery bags, stand up pouches, cling film and even bubble wraps are now available from Jain, or through Daraz and the CleanNepal2021 campaign. 

"Our primary aim at the moment is to help switch from single-use plastic in offices, household dustbins to a biodegradable alternative," says Bunty Sethia of Jain Trading Concern. "Even though many people know about the dangers of plastic, eliminating it fully from our lives is difficult.”

Sethia says that if alert consumers start boycotting single-use plastic asking manufacturers and service providers to use the biodegradable variety, it could be effective in reducing the solid waste management in Nepal. 

Every year, nearly 2 million plastic bags are used once and thrown away in Kathmandu Valley alone, making up 15% of all garbage that goes to landfill sites or is burnt. Every day, an estimated 150 tonnes of plastic end up in Nepal’s garbage dumps.

Some cities like Ilam and Dharan have tried to ban plastic bags altogether, but it has been difficult to enforce. Others have banned the use of plastic below 30 microns in thickness that cannot be recycled. But there are more than 250 companies that import pellets needed for manufacturing plastic bags, and they have a strong lobby with the government—making previous bans ineffective. 

Clean Nepal 2021, which has ‘Let's Restore Nepal's Beauty’ as its motto, is trying to spread awareness on environmental health and provide alternative options to the consumers. 

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