Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Oct 08, 2002
Industry & Economy
Scottish co offers tech for bio-degradable carry bags Negotiations on with Kolkata co
S. Gopikrishna Warrier
CHENNAI, Oct. 7
HAVE you heard of plastic bags buried in landfills degrading naturally and disintegrating?
Scottish company Luibeg International Commodities, which holds the licence for the technology to make and market this product in India, is in the process of tying up with a Kolkata-based plastic manufacturer for exports and domestic use.
According to Mr R. Keith Mackay, partner at Luibeg, the special additive totally degrading plastic additive (TDPA) can make common low density polyethylene carry-bags and garbage bags into a biodegradable product. Though the additive can also be added to other plastics, the initial concentration will be on such bags.
The technology and the additive has been developed and patented by a British company, which in turn has sold the rights to manufacture and market the product in India to Luibeg, Mr Mackay said.
He, however, did not divulge the name of the British company and the Kolkata-based manufacturer, since the agreements were at the final stages of negotiation.
The additive can be added to the raw material and used in the same kind of machinery that the plastic manufacturers use, he said. Once the bags start feeling the heat and humidity, they will start disintegrating.
"In the landfill the product will degrade into carbon dioxide and water," Mr Mackay said. Once there, the bags will degrade in a period between three months and three years.
The technology input is in deciding the manufacturing parameters depending on the shelf-life and other characteristics required from the product.
The plan is to set up a new manufacturing facility for biodegradable plastic at Kolkata, he said. This facility will work on delivering an order of 12,000 tonnes per year for the British company. While the British patent holder has its production line, it will outsource a part of its demand from the Kolkata factory.
"The demand from the British company is for 1,000 tonnes of product per month," he said. "This will translate to 60 million carry bags and 200 tonnes of black bag per month."
According to Mr Javier Perez de Burgos, the other partner at Luibeg, though the extrusion devices do not require changing, it is better if a separate facility is kept for manufacturing the biodegradable plastic since it requires good ambient temperature and environmental control during production.
The new facility, Mr Mackay added, would be established by the Indian company at an investment of Rs 24 crore. The facility is expected to be ready in three months and optimum export production is expected within six months.
The export contract is expected to fetch around $6,00,000 per month. In addition, excess production can also marketed in India, he said.
"We will supply the additive, technological know-how and the technical back-up, while the Indian company will set up the facility," Mr Mackay said.
When the product is retailed in India, it is likely to cost around 50 per cent more than the conventional bags, according to him. This, however, can be brought down if the Union Government realises the environmental significance of the product and reduces the import duty on the additive.
Mr Mackay, who is happy with the support provided by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, hopes that he would be able to link with other Indian plastic manufacturers so that the bags could be manufactured in larger quantities for the Indian market.
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