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Bangladesh invents plastic alternative from jute

Bangladesh invents plastic alternative from jute

AS COUNTRIES around the world try to cut down on throwaway plastic shopping bags, Bangladesh is hoping to cash in on an alternative: plastic-like bags made from jute, the plant fibre used to produce burlap bags.

Bangladesh is the world’s second biggest producer of jute after India, though the so-called “golden fibre” – named for its colour and its once-high price – has lost its sheen as demand has fallen.

Now, however, a Bangladeshi scientist has found a way to turn the fibre into low-cost biodegradable cellulose sheets that can be made into greener throwaway bags that look and feel much like plastic ones.

“The physical properties are quite similar,” said Mubarak Ahmad Khan, a scientific adviser to the state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and leader of the team that developed the new “sonali” – the Bengali word for “golden” – bags.