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26 May 2019, Edition - 1412, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Coir best alternative to plastic, says Coimbatore businessman

Susmitha Suresh

Coimbatore : As Tamil Nadu mulls alternatives to plastic, coir comes as handy.

“The decision to ban plastic products in the State from next year is a very good decision. We have an abundant availability of alternative materials,” said S K Gowthaman, president, CoCoMan (Coimbatore Coir & Allied Products Manufacturing Association) and coir consultant. “We have more than 80 plus products made of coir, jute and banana fibre that can be used in day to day life,” he adds.

Gowthaman and his team produces products like coir yarn, coir gardening pots, woven and non-woven geotextile blankets for erosion control, ice cream cups, coir watches, chappals and more.

“If we take an individual home, they use a minimum of five plastic bags, tea cups, ice cream cups, chappals, watches, calendars and other plastic goods. We have coir alternatives for all of this,”, said Gowthaman.

“We also have alternatives for plastic tables and chairs made from coir fibre wood, a processed version of non-woven geotextile blankets.

“Another advantage of using coir is that many village economies will improve. Over 90 per cent of coir production is done in small scale industries in villages. It also generates employment there, of which 70-80 per cent of the employed are women, he adds.

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Gowtham admits that the only negative aspect is the price though not very high.

About what can be done to reduce the prices, he said, “Currently, 80 per cent of the coir produced are exported. If we use it to make more products, surely the price will go down. But for that we need a bigger market.”

“The main problem is that we are not used to using biodegradable things,” said R Mohammed Saleem, president of Environment Conservation Group. “We have to sacrifice a little of our convenience for our environment, or we won’t have a future,” he added.

On June 5, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced in the Assembly that disposable plastic would be banned in the State from January 1. Only afew daily use plastics, like for packing milk, medicine and oil would be exempted from the ban.

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