vor 8 Jahren

03 | 2008

  • Text
  • Packaging
  • Bioplastics
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  • Biodegradable
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Politics Passion and

Politics Passion and Commitment global efforts for combating global climate change, protecting and improving our global environment, poverty uplifting and for sustainable human growth. bM: Strong words. What exactly is – for example – behind the ‘Community Empowerment Program’ for poverty uplifting? Albert Oung: CEP is a social enterprise approach to poverty uplifting and community development. Through targeted investment and fair trade practice, it empowers farmers and growers in underdeveloped areas to move from mere raw materials suppliers to producers of high-valued products. These areas include Africa, India, Thailand, China, the Philippines and others. The program helps build schools, clinics, nurseries and other social services, focusing on supporting and preserving families, protecting children and women from violence and abuse, and promoting indigenous leadership through education and training. Our ultimate aim is to eradicate rural poverty from the root causes while help to protect and improve our global environment. We also employ handicapped or previously convicted people for the same salary as others. bM: And what is the Earth Buddy Foundation? Albert Oung: We believe global warming and rural poverty are inter-related issues, and they can only be dealt with in global concerted efforts. We also believe in the power of people to change the world for a better place. The Earth Buddy Foundation (EBF) is established whose missions are to: • Combat global climate change • Fight rural poverty, and • Promote fair trade. Earth Buddy Foundation is an open and investment vehicle organization funded in parts from sales of Earth Buddy biodegradable products and services, sponsorship programs and donations from businesses and individuals worldwide. The foundation helps implementing the ‘Earth Buddy Community Empowerment Program’ in needed areas. It supports an education program: The so called ‘Eco University’ focuses on environment, fair trade, rural poverty, and global warming. Scholarships and education sponsorship programs are also parts of the latter. And last but not least a Disaster Relief and Sponsorship Program which includes product sponsors for schools or NGOs such as ‘World Vision, Crossroads, Oxfam, WWF’ and etc. bM: What are your future plans in short and mid-term? Albert Oung: We target to build 25 Earth Buddy facilities worldwide using a special turnkey approach in the next eight years (2008 - 2015) through direct investment, partnerships and CEP. The plan will produce 5 billion units of biodegradable food containers and packaging products annually. In this perspective we are proud to announce that we have established an exclusive distributorship for Europe with our partners, namely Natura Verpackungs GmbH in Germany and ASP Packaging Limited in England. As market leaders in the fresh produce packaging they will enhance market penetration for Earth Buddy across Europe. bM: Anything else you’d like to add? Albert Oung: Yes indeed: Of course for all our facilities we insist on organic farming through use of crop residues, agricultural wastes, non-GMO fertilizers and seeds. We intend to create a sustainable agricultural platform for various crops growing and cross cultivation including tomatoes, potatoes, corns and other crops as part of the organic farm eco-system, while object large-scale and uncontrolled commercial farming practices that destroy biodiversity and consequently our food supply system. Crop by-products, agricultural wastes and residues which cannot be used for our main products are converted into biomass energy (cellulose ethanol, for example) or used directly to generate heat and electricity for transportation, farming, production and other daily uses. We insist on a balanced approach to protecting land rights, food security and biodiversity, while preventing more greenhouse gases being emitted as a result of human act. bM: Thank you very much. Mr. Oung. bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/08] Vol. 3 39

Opinion Bioplastic Man The story of a road less taken and a war against habit I am an ardent student of the Gaia hypothesis. Named after the Greek earth goddess, the Gaia hypothesis was first proposed in the 1960s by an independent research scientist, Dr. James Lovelock. His work for NASA led him to the conclusion that the living and non-living parts of the earth are a constantly interacting, intricately interconnected system that can be thought of as a single super organism where everything — oceans, forests, coral reefs — has a regulatory effect on everything else. My company, Earthsoul India, was born out of two emotions: guilt and compassion. Guilt for being part of a species that has consistently contributed to Gaia’s decay and destruction; and compassion, because some years ago while in Goa I noticed the Arabian Sea spouting plastic like a TB patient spouting blood at every heave. I was overwhelmed by a need to alleviate some of Gaia’s anguish. Thus was seeded Earthsoul India and its quest — harmony with planet earth. Plastics, per se, are indispensable as a raw material. The problems are its applications in our consumption driven economies where waste management is not or cannot be implemented effectively. Months of arduous research for a sustainable alternative to synthetic plastics took me to Novamont in Italy, the world’s first and largest biopolymer manufacturer. Mater-Bi, the raw material, is made primarily from non-GM corn starch. The meeting did not last long — the feeling was India was not ready for an expensive substitute to synthetic plastic. But eventually my conviction paid off. In 2001, I found myself with exclusive manufacturer and distribution licence on the subcontinent for all of Novamont’s bioplastic raw materials and, indecently, no ready market for the product! Several meetings with potential clients yielded no results and six months down the road I found myself without a single customer. Finally, a breakthrough came with an order from the Taj Group of Hotels for disposal bags. The order was worth just Rs 10,000 (about 250 US-$ or 160 EUR), but I was exhilarated. From this followed enquiries from government institutions and private sector enterprises. But once again the feeling was that ours was not a viable business model as our bioplastics were four times more expensive than synthetic polymer. Government duties — import tariffs, sales tax and excise — accounted for more than half these excessive costs. If the government wanted to be proactive, as they had been with biofuels, our product could have been only 5% more expensive than the alternative. But vested By PERSES BILIMORIA, Founder and CEO Earthsoul 40 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/08] Vol. 3

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