A company in Chile is using Chinese technology to create carrier bags that quickly dissolve in water after the South American nation ratified a bill to ban plastic grocery sacks.
The cost-effective bags combine hydrogen, carbon and a synthetic polymer — and don’t cause pollution, state-owned news agency Xinhua reported in a feature article on July 25, citing the bag’s manufacturer Solubag.
Chile is set to become the first country in the continent to get rid of plastic bags after its constitutional court endorsed a law in June to outlaw their use. Once President Sebastian Pinera gives his seal of approval, shops and businesses will have between six months and a year to find an alternative.
“We worked with our partner in China, with which we patented the raw material or base product, and then a utility model for the different kinds of bags to protect our idea and the concept behind it, which is water solubility,” Solubag’s General Manager Roberto Astete told Xinhua after a company press conference on July 24.
A utility model, an exclusive right granted for an invention, usually involves minor improvements to and adaptations of existing products, Xinhua said. Astete and partner Christian Olivares began work on the bags several years ago, before testing out their findings in Guangdong province, a tech hub in southern China.
Once there, the pair linked up with local firm Polye Materials.
“It is one of the first companies to produce these water-soluble materials for plastic shopping bags and other packages,” said Polye spokeswoman Lydia Li.
The two companies have since managed to slash production costs by 80 percent, allowing them to send the bags to market at a competitive price. Solubag is already in talks with two South American supermarket chains to start mass producing the sacks, and also plans to roll out a reusable textile bag which dissolves in hot water.
The pair’s next aim is to make an alternative to plastic cutlery and cups.