By SHELOMITA SAVITRI
Contributor - Indonesia
PERHAPS plastic has changed the world, but plastic alternatives can change our future.
The plastics frenzy that started in the early 20th century happened due to the product’s slow decomposition rate, its versatility, high durability and ability to be moulded into whatever shape necessary – all very exciting back then. Unfortunately, the rapid growth of industry and human consumption in recent decades has drastically increased the world’s plastic consumption. On the other hand, recycling solutions have yet to keep up. The result is a dramatic increase in plastic waste.
Based on these worrying facts, a group of individuals pioneered Avani Eco in 2014. Led by Kevin Kumala, a social entrepreneur with an educational background in biology, medical and business management, they created a line of environmentally friendly products.
The highlight of Avani Eco is their casava-based plastic alternative bag. Cassava is rich in carbohydrates and its starchy quality makes it suitable as a component for biodegradable packaging. That it is also drought resistant and accessible in many countries makes this often-overlooked root crop a star in Avani’s products.
However, they have more to offer. Intrigued? Lets dive further into their vision of the future of sustainable products as we interview the Avani team.
Kevin Kumala started Avani Eco in 2014 to create fully compostable bio-based bags and other products such as drinking straws, takeaway food containers and utensils. (Photo: Avani Eco)
What was the turning point in developing Avani Eco?
The fast paced industry growth and consumerism makes people prefer to use practical products. The fossil fuel based plastic is indeed the most practical and economical option which accounted for its high demand. Around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic a year is unleashed to the ocean. Scientists have stated that 10 years from now, at the rate of our consumption, the amount of plastic pollution in the sea will surpass the amount of fish in the see. The damage we are doing to our ecosystem is becoming irreparable.
Kevin Kumala sees this grim reality and decided to start Avani Eco. With our REPLACE philosophy, we try to offer products that can replace today’s nearly impossible to decompose products that come from fossil fuel.
Currently Avani produces and sells Bio-Cassava Bag (plastic bag and film packaging alternatives), Bio-Poncho (plastic poncho alternative), PLA Products (plastic food and beverage packaging alternatives), Bio-Paper Products (paper based food and beverage packaging), and Bio-Box (bamboo based styrofoam packaging alternative.
Our company has grown from a garage-sized startup in Bali to a company with a production facility and space to retail and it is an expanding business. Our connections have reached not only Indonesia but countries all over the world.
Sustainable packging for takeaway and delivery
What is your competitive edge compared to others creating products with the same values?
Avani’s competitive points that distinguish us from similar environmental solutions is our focus on practicality. In order to provide the right alternative for plastic that is so embedded in our daily lives, we need to offer something that is easy enough that consumers doesn’t feel the need to change their lives in order to be more environmental friendly.
Secondly, the wide range of products that Avani offers for easy pick of sustainable living adoptability. Avani’s Bio Cassava bag for example is not only as practical as plastic bag but also fully compostable bio-based plastic bag alternative that will be absorbed back to nature. These features are not only convenient, but also environmentally friendly.
Tell us more about your technological production method that sets you apart from the others.
Avani products have been developed through years of research and use ground-breaking technology, using only renewable resources made from plants. We use not only cassava but various natural materials such as corn starch, paper, to sugar cane, to produce alternatives to single-use petroleum-based plastic products.
All products are biodegradable and benefit the environment. Furthermore, all Avani products are also certified sustainable alternatives to plastic that are made from renewable resources.
The cassava bag itself is 100% natural, biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, certified non-toxic, dissolve in water and proven to be harmless if consumed by animals. These bags are certified to EU standards for compostability (EN13432) and have been granted Oral Toxicity test by WIL Research Netherlands.
Where does Avani Eco products circulate?
We operate both online and offline, for both B2B and B2C. Avani’s customers also come from various backgrounds and scales of business, whether small businesses to big corporations. Companies from hospitality industry, food and beverages industry, clothing industry to aviation industry has become our customers.
To name a few, some of our customers are the renowned outdoor brand Eiger, DestinAsian magazine, Melia hotel Bali, Four Points by Sheraton, Aston, Westin Hotel & Resort, and Virgin Megastore Dubai. These are some of Avani’s customers which are not only spread around Indonesia but also around the world.
Virgin Megastore, as we mentioned before, is one of our customers. This global lifestyle retail and entertainment destination, is replacing all its plastic shopping bags in the UAE with our Bio-Cassava bags. This is deffinitely a big progress not only for us but also for the environment as a whole.
The bags that are branded with ‘It’s only natural’ and ‘This bag is a hero’ strap lines have been launched in 2019 across all Virgin Megastores in the UAE. AVANI Middle East has opened the first-ever production facility in the Middle East, in the UAE, to produce the Bio-Cassava bags that will have the capacity to make 1.2 million bags per month.
Are there plans for business expansion?
Basically, we try to work with anyone with the same passion for sustainability and eco-friendly values. For example, we have partnered with Center of Waste Management Indonesia, a waste treatment facility in our pursuit to create an ideal end-of-life scheme for our products.
As in our business expansion, we are very excited with our current business partnership in the UAE. Our new production facility is located in Al Quoz, Dubai. The facility is approximately 3000 sqft and our aim is to be operational, starting with one production line which will be expanded as our business continues to grow in the UAE and GCC.
Company Avani Eco
T: +62 361 9065555
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