Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Bio packaging Solutions finds alternative to plastic products

Published:Tuesday | December 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Transforming compostable materials made from polylactic acid (PLA) into fertiliser for local farmers has been touted by an executive from the Ocho Rios-based company, Bio Packaging Solutions, as a new method that it will be helping Jamaicans get accustomed to.

The Gleaner published a story on October 26 outlining that Bio Packaging Solutions will be producing 100 per cent biodegradable products to fill the gap, when the ban on single-use plastics, plastic bags, straws and styrofoam takes effect on January 1.

Added to that, company director Michael Miller said transforming products made from polylactic acid into fertiliser will coincide with the Government's plan to reduce the amount of harmful products the environment is fed with.

"If you buy PLA products and throw it in a landfill, it will break down, but it will take roughly five years. It is compostable and has a shorter composting time than plastics, but it still takes some time. In order to break it down quicker, it has to be reprocessed in a plant. After that, it will be readily available to be used as manure and for gardening."

Miller explained that his team is in discussions with a Chinese manufacturer, and is working on bringing a machine on the island to facilitate the transformation of PLA into fertiliser.




"The products are safe, because they are by-products of plant-based elements like cassava. Right now, plastic is the one that causes problems. We are in discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture, to see if it could be distributed to farmers for wide-scale farming," he explained.

Concerning the alternative products that will be available come next month, Miller said, "The average restaurant uses plastic utensils that are either made from styrofoam or plastic. All our products are 100 per cent compostable. The boxes are made from sugar cane bagasse and the straws are made with paper and are lined with beeswax and cornstarch."

Miller pointed out that members of the public are concerned that the products that will be introduced will be more expensive than what is being used today, but expressed hope that by February, the economy will restabilise itself to facilitate the new products.

However, the concerns held by members of the business community run deep and some say they may have to consider raising the prices of their products.

One man, who operates multiple food establishments in Kingston and St Andrew, told The Gleaner that, "It a go affect business in a big way. Recently, I visited a popular store on Red Hills Road to check out the bamboo containers they have as substitute, and it was very expensive compared to the Styrofoam containers."