I’m really excited to write this post because this upcoming product is actually the one that inspired me to centre my theme around environmental innovations! In 2018, the Singapore government decided that a ban on plastic bags would not be necessary despite them shifting their focus to the environmental crisis. You can read more about that in this article that was published in the local news.
In light of this development, this product is THE ONE invention that is sorely needed in Singapore. Without further ado, let me introduce you to the Telobag!
The telo-bag looks just like a regular plastic bag but is actually made from the starch in cassava root. The inventors state that the bags are 100% organic, which means that they are fully biodegradable and free of microplastics normally found in plastic bags. The product website claims that it naturally degrades after approximately 180 days, and the process can be accelerated by exposing it to soil and organisms. There are also videos online (like this one) that show how Telobags are able to fully dissolve in hot water and seawater.
Unlike the innovations featured in my previous posts, I was lucky that I managed to experience the Telobag in real life. It feels somewhat similar to latex and the best part is that it is completely edible! The website promotes the bag as non-toxic to both humans and animals, so my friends and I decided to test that theory. We each tore a small piece of the bag and ATE it (we verified that it was safe to consume before we did it). It had a slightly sweet taste to it, but was mostly bland tasting. It’s AMAZING how this bag seems to have solutions for almost all the problems regular plastic bags pose to the environment:)
I do hope that Telobags will be able to replace normal plastic bags in Singapore, seeing as how they both serve the same function and have the same level of convenience for consumers. Since the government is not yet willing to give up plastic bags entirely, the situation could at least be improved by switching to Telobags instead. It is definitely a more sustainable alternative, as cassava is a renewable source compared to traditional plastic made from crude oil and natural gases. Moreover, cassava is a very resilient crop, that can still thrive with slight changes in the environment (Burns et al., 2010).
Despite this said, the production of the Telobag still requires resources. More Telobags produced = More cassava needed = More land needed for growing cassava. Everything we do, especially as individual consumers, has an impact on the Earth. As much as possible, the ideal solution for us would be to refuse carriers entirely whenever we can. We need to start examining what is necessary in our lives and in society, rather than what is convenient.
Burns, A., Gleadow, R., Cliff, J., Zacarias, A., & Cavagnaro, T. (2010). Cassava: The Drought, War and Famine Crop in a Changing World. Sustainability, 2(11), 3572–3607. doi: 10.3390/su2113572