Cassava Bag

The above picture taken from somewhere in Nairobi shows what’s left of what was once a stream

Can you imagine a cassava carrier bag!
That’s likely what we’re going to be using in place of the environmental harmful plastic bags (paper bag, as we are used to), come the next few months.

We are all aware of the plastic bag ban here in Kenya that’s supposed to take effect from the 28th of August, a few weeks from now according to a notice published in Kenya Gazette by Judi Wakhungu, Environmental Cabinet Secretary. No one will be allowed to manufacture or even import the plastic bags that we have been used to since we were kids. Just to show how serious the government is, the licenses of those industries that manufactured them was not renewed. They were given up to this coming August to clear out their stock.

This is just a move to try to manage this plastic bag problem that’s giving many countries and other environmental organizations such as the UNEP, sleepless nights. And the UNEP which has it’s headquarters here in Nairobi, applauded the move, in spite of some cry from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers who think the decision is ill-timed.

It’s said by the year 2050 global waters will have more plastics than fish. that’s scary!

Here in Kenya we have all witnessed this plastic menace, plastic material from plastic shopping bags to plastic containers and bottles, littered everywhere with every corner you turn and so when the government decided to say enough is enough, most people agreed at least going by the social media feedback. But the hard question since then has always been, what will be the alternative?

Then today I saw the cassava bags on the  KTN business segment by Abby Agina. There was this guest talking about this Indonesian company, Avani Eco that was ready to start exporting us the bags made from cassava. Hopefully if their initiative is accepted by the government maybe they can even go ahead and locally set up a factory and employ those unlucky employees that will be losing their jobs come August.

The I AM NOT PLASTIC well-printed in the uppercase letters on the side of the bag.  It was the first time I was hearing of them and honestly, also the first time that I was hearing of a country outside Africa producing cassava. I only thought of cassava as an African crop that was largely grown in Nigeria, at least going by those Nollywood films we grew up watching (until recently when we’ve started resenting them). We cultivate cassavas even here in Kenya but only left for the poor. Most Kenyans are to proud to even taste a cassava meal and in the villages it’s ugali is used to put up posters, especially those advertising church crusades.

The cassava bag is biodegradable. It biodegrades in a few months in normal conditions but when you submerge it in hot water it dissolve almost immediately. Just to prove the bags are not harmful to the environment, the guest demonstrated by putting it in hot water, letting it dissolve and asking Aggy to drink the concoction. This means that marine life especially fish will be safe in case the bags dissolve in waters (and healthy from eating cassava-can you imagine).

Let’s wait and see how this plays out. We will soon start seeing cassava plantations all over the country, not just for meals this time round, but for the industrial manufacture of biodegradable bags.

you can watch a video excerpt of this interview for yourselves in the link below Cassava Bag


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