Mak­ing biodegrad­able plas­tic fan­tas­tic for more shop­pers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHANG YU and YUAN HUI in Wuhai, In­ner Mon­go­lia

Yu Haim­ing has moved his high-tech com­pany into pro­duc­ing plas­tic bags that are less harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment.

The chair­man of the Dongyuan Scien-Tech Co Ltd is on a mis­sion to cut down on pol­lu­tion by rolling out more ecofriendly mod­els for busy shop­pers.

“They will biode­grade within 90 days once they are thrown away,” Yu said. “Only traces of car­bon diox­ide and water will be left.”

Founded in 2008, Dongyu- an Scien-Tech is based in Wuhai in North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion and em­ploys about 3,000 peo­ple.

The group’s key busi­ness is the chem­i­cal and plas­tics in­dus­try al­though the com­pany has yet to dis­close de­tailed fi­nan­cial fig­ures.

Since 2012, it has in­vested 6.3 bil­lion yuan ($899 mil­lion) into its op­er­a­tions and ex­pects sales rev­enue to reach 43 bil­lion yuan an­nu­ally by 2022.

As the group ex­pands, it aims to in­crease its pro­duc­tion of PBS, or poly­buty­lene suc­ci­nate. This is a key com­po­nent for mak­ing biodegrada- ble plas­tic bags and mulching films, which sup­press weeds and con­serve water in crop pro­duc­tion.

“We pro­duce 20,000 to 40,000 met­ric tons of PBS per year,” Yu said. “But we ex­pect to reach 200,000 tons an­nu­ally within three years.

“This will cut out 350 mil­lion tons of plas­tic waste a year,” he added.

Still, there will be chal­lenges ahead for the com­pany.

Biodegrad­able plas­tic is more ex­pen­sive, so the costs are nat­u­rally passed on to the cus­tomer.

Yu con­firmed that sales of the new eco-friendly bags in Zhe­jiang and Jiangsu prov­inces had been dis­ap­point­ing be­cause of the higher price.

“A reg­u­lar size biodegrad­able bag from su­per­mar­kets will cost about 1 yuan, while the old ones will be 0.5 yuan,” Yu said.

To stop this dip in sales, Dongyuan Scien-Tech hopes to trim costs by link­ing up with the Chengdu In­sti­tute of Or­ganic Chem­istry un­der the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences.

With the help of the academy, Yu is con­fi­dent his com­pany can pro­duce a high­ly­compet­i­tive new age shop­ping bag.

“The aim is to make the bio- degrad­able plas­tic cheaper, so it’s at­trac­tive to shop­pers,” he said.

“At the mo­ment biodegrad­able bags make up less than 7 per­cent of the plas­tic bags used in China,” Yu added.

In 2008, the gov­ern­ment banned free plas­tic bags in su­per­mar­kets, stores and mar­kets in a bid to curb pol­lu­tion.

Nine years later, cus­tomers are still us­ing them in vast num­bers, Liu Jun­hai, a pro­fes­sor at the Law School of Ren­min Univer­sity of China, told China Youth Daily.

“The pur­pose of the ban was to con­tain the use of pol­lut­ing plas­tic bags, but man­u­fac­tures are still pro­duc­ing them, re­tail­ers are still sell­ing them and con­sumers are still us­ing them,” Liu said.

Yu hopes to even­tu­ally change that men­tal­ity by mak­ing the new biodegrad­able bags cheaper and more ap­peal­ing to cus­tomers.

He plans to roll out more cost-ef­fec­tive prod­ucts later in the year.

“I’m not the one who de­vel­oped the PBS tech­nol­ogy, but I want to be the one who makes it pos­si­ble for com­mon peo­ple to af­ford it,” Yu said.

They will biode­grade within 90 days once they are thrown away.” Yu Haim­ing, chair­man of the Dongyuan Scien-Tech Co Ltd

Con­tact the writer at zhangyu1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

WANG ZHUANGFEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A woman pre­pares food for Rus­sian tourists in a folk vil­lage in In­ner Mon­go­lia.

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