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Case Code: LDEN144
Case Length: 12 Pages 
Period: -   
Pub Date: 2019
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.300
Organization : -
Industry :Packaging Material
Countries : India
Themes: Environmental Sustainability/ New Product Development/ Entrepreneurial Strategy
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Finding a Green Solution to Plastic: Kevin Kumala’s Cassava Bags

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In 1907, the production of Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, marked the beginning of the global plastics industry. Plastic was a unique material with many benefits. It was cheap, lightweight, and durable. It was, however, non-biodegradable and merely broke down into smaller and smaller pieces with exposure to sunlight. Until the 1950s, however, the rapid growth in global plastic production went unnoticed. Over the years, the annual production of plastics increased nearly 200-fold and reached 381 million tonnes in 2015...

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Kumala found the novel solution by converting the edible part of the cassava plant into bags which were non-toxic, sturdy, biodegradable, and compostable in months, certified as non-GMO, and contained no petroleum. Kumala said, “Here in Indonesia we are growing about 25.2 million tons of cassava annually. It means that when it comes to the commodity price, cassava is the most economical commodity available in the country.” The bags were made from 100 percent bio-based material and the printing used eco-friendly ink. Moreover, they could be recycled with paper and even added to the compost pile. These bags only needed 90 days to fully decompose, roughly the same time as shredded and soaked cardboard...


Although Avani was trying to combat plastic pollution, establishing the cassava material as a competitor to traditional plastic was a real challenge. Selling the products to businesses despite the “green premium” that made them more expensive than conventional plastic proved tough. Avani’s bags were also subject to criticism for not actually being that eco-friendly in the long run. Experts claimed that not all bioplastics compost easily or completely and some leave toxic residues or plastic fragments behind. The material for the other products Avani Eco sold were sourced in Indonesia, but some items were also made in China as it was more cost effective to do so. That was likely to add to the company’s carbon footprint...


In 2017, Avani benefited from a campaign called “Bye Bye Plastic Bags”. (Refer to Table I for more details). This campaign raised awareness on plastic pollution and forced the government to take action. The government thereafter committed to banning plastic bags by 2018...


Exhibit I: Products of Avani Eco
Exhibit II: Avani Eco’s ‘I am not Plastic’ Bags
Exhibit III: Global Plastic Production