The Jakarta Post
Biodegradable takeaway coffee cup from Avani (avanieco.com/File)
The image of Bali is mostly about stereotypical scenes of an idyllic tropical island, with the overlaying green paddy fields, and waves in the turquoise water crashing against the scenic white sandy beach.
However, behind these pictures of paradise, development is growing at an unstoppable pace, causing huge increases in consumption that is leaving a trail of waste. And when people throw this waste out, no one ever stops to think about where it all goes.
All the waste will eventually end up in a dumpsite in Suwung, Denpasar, which is now home to a 14-story-high mountain of trash. Not all residents or visitors are aware of this dumping ground. It seems that the island’s problems are out of sight and thus out of mind for some people.
Out of various kinds of garbage, plastic waste is the biggest concern here.
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It is estimated that 150 million tons of plastic is currently in the ocean and is harming ecosystems and marine life, and eventually us.
Indonesia is said to be the second largest marine plastic polluter in the world after China. In its many forms, plastic is a cheap material that has become a part of everyday life at all levels of society. From the streets and local markets and supermarkets, to restaurants, bars, and delivery services, plastic really is everywhere.
While the campaign of the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) is spreading everywhere, it seems that not everyone actually applies those three actions in their daily lives. Institutions are constantly carrying out this campaign, but the slow trickle of education and awareness may take too long to have a significant impact.
One of the simplest solutions to overcoming this problem is by reducing our daily use of plastic. Imagine how many plastic bags are used, disposed and polluting the environment each time we go to a market or shopping mall, or when we cover our trash bin — at least one plastic bag is involved.
Concerned with this issue, Kevin Kumala and David Rosenqvist founded Avani, a social enterprise in Indonesia taking the initiative to create fast, effective and positive change to overcome the problems of plastic waste.
“Bali is the epicenter of the battle against plastic waste. Assumed by most as a tropical island paradise with pristine white-sand beaches, the truth is that the island’s beaches are now often saturated with garbage and debris, and the majority of this trash is plastic,” Kevin said.
“Take a plastic straw for example, which is a seemingly harmless product that we use only for 30 minutes to delight ourselves in a simple cocktail. What we forget to remember is that this one little piece of plastic will last for many years in the environment, polluting our oceans and other landscapes.”
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The same goes for plastic shopping bags, which are used on an everyday basis for simple groceries.
“Studies have proven that every single plastic bag can take up to 200 years to decompose. Finally, the biggest balloon of them all is this fire foam, which will take more than thousands of years to decompose,” Kevin said.
Established in 2014, Avani places its main concern in replacing disposable plastic products with sustainable materials, because they are made from renewable resources; corn and sugarcane.
Kevin the Chief Green Officer and David the VP of Green Operators thoughtfully create various products that aim to reduce the environmental impact and at the same time increase independence from fossil resources.
As the result of Kevin’s background studies and biological science, complemented with an itch of wanting to do something after learning more about how much the country is really drowning a nation with plastic pollution, the two started their first project of creating ecofriendly rain ponchos made out of corn, soy and sunflowers.
With intense research and advanced technology, as well as using plant-based ingredients, these ponchos have become their first biodegradable product.
But they didn’t stop there as they are continuing to look for more green inspirations. Following the rain ponchos, Kevin and David pivoted to introducing a new category of ecofriendly products catering specifically to hospitality services under their patented trade name Avani.
Now, they have created more products, such as paper straws, soup bowls, cutlery, takeaway coffee cups and shopping bags, introducing their products to notable hotel, beach clubs and even vegan cafés.
The takeaway food packaging for example, is made out of sugarcane fiber that when discarded will become water, carbon dioxide and biomass after 180 days. The coffee cups and lids are made of corn starch, while the cutlery is made from wood that have been grown in properly managed forests.
Avani also creates paper straws that have been made from FDA-approved materials and inks, and are 100 percent chlorine-free. A micro thin plant-based wax liner makes the straws biodegradable and compostable. With bold, colorful designs, they are durable for hours and can be discarded with a clear conscious. As for the eco bags, they look, feel and perform like plastic, but are made from cassava roots and all-natural resins.
Avani aims to help rehabilitate the island by offering sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives to hazardous products that locals and tourists use every day.
“We are able to replace the plastic products with sustainable resources, which are purely generated from plants and will eventually become compost for Mother Nature,” Kevin said, adding that in Bali alone, plastic waste had reached close to 1,000 tons per day.
Since the beginning of 2016, by distributing its eco-friendly non-plastic products, Avani has supplied and replaced 955.7 cubic meters in volume or 131.5 tons of otherwise hazardous and unsustainable materials.
Avani has successfully influenced others to use the biodegradable products in their businesses, and that has led them to believe that there are many more people willing to support their mission to make the world greener and cleaner.
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