Plastic is a group of waste that damages the environment due to its resistance to degradation. An article on Jakarta Post states that Indonesia produces 1.3 million tons of plastic wastes daily and therefore we are nominated as second country with the largest plastic waste production. Moreover, 90% of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, either in the form of macroplastic, microplastic, or nanoplastic. Despite its small size, microplastic is harmful because could be ingested by animals habitating in the ocean. Even as a country with an abundance of natural resources, unsolved environmental issues such as the accumulation of plastic in the ocean may pose a huge threat to the sustainability of our natural potential.
On the other hand, seaweed is part of Indonesia’s natural resources. Unfortunately, the potential application of seaweed has yet been extensively explore due to the lack of market demand compared to the availability of seaweed harvest. This causes a lot of economical loss for seaweed farmers.
Such combination of social and environment problems led Dr. Noryawati Mulyono, S.Si., the head of Food Technology Program of Faculty of Biotechnology, Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, to develop an idea on how to produce environmentaly friendly plastic, or bioplastic, from seaweed. As seaweed is ready to degrade in nature, it is an excellent alternative to regular plastic and it supports the effort to reduce environmental deterioration.
This seaweed-based plastic has been commercialized internationally under the brand name Evoware. This product is unique as not only it is biodegrable, but it is also edible, free of synthetic coloring agents, tasteless, and contains nutritions such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, this product would help alleviate non-degradable plastic accumulation issue and at the same time improve the welfare of seaweed farmers.
The development of bioplastic indeed is going on slowly in Indonesia, and the use of bioplastics has yet become something familiar to society. Nevertheless, we can still participate in reducing plastic waste pollution through small actions. Reducing plastic usage is a simple way to do it. Bring your own reusable drinking bottle or shopping bags to help reduce plastic consumption. Those efforts might seem non-significant, yet you’ll be surprise how much effect it may bring when everyone is doing the same thing. Let’s take part in reducing the use of non-environmentally friendly plastic!