Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Biodegradable Plastic Bags

By Anton Antonio
September 24, 2015

Filipinos are known, all over the world, for their industry and ingenuity.  While this is largely considered a myth, time and again, Filipinos show the kind of great stuff they are made of.  One such case is the story of a young kid growing up in war-torn Island of Mindanao in southern Philippines.  Please read…


As reported by the Philippine Star, Amin Hataman, 15 year-old, a student at the Fountain International School in San Juan City, Metro Manila, is now a certified international award-winning inventor of biodegradable plastic bags.  Hataman won a bronze medal last May in the 2015 International Sustainable World Energy, engineering and Environment Project (I-SWWP) Olympiad held in Houston, Texas.  He won for inventing biodegradable plastic bags made from nata de coco, a by-product of coconut, last year for a Science project requirement in their school.  The biodegradable plastic bags also won another international award for Hataman last year: a gold medal in the 2014 International Young Inventors Olympiad in Tbilisi, Georgia.  Hataman is a son of Gov. Mujib Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  He is among nine young Filipinos being showcased by Wyeth Nutrition as exemplars of young innovative Filipino spirit, which Wyeth hopes to promote and nurture further as the company launches this year the nationwide Search for Filipino Kid Innovators that will select its first crop of winners in 2016.  “Growing up there, I developed this love for the environment,” Hataman said.  He drew inspiration from environment growing up in Mindanao.  Hataman said that as a child, he noticed the common practice of people putting garbage inside plastic that is not biodegradable.  “I did some research on how plastic was actually doing a lot of damage to the environment,” Hataman said.  By pursuing research on biodegradable alternatives to plastic, he learned about the cellulose properties of nata de coco.  “Right now, I’m actually already trying to patent this.  In the future, if I go into business, I might be able to implement this,” Hataman said.  Hataman’s science teacher had been impressed with the science project so he submitted the invention to international invention contests.  Hakan Ozkan, assistant director of Foundation International School said that the school started submitting excellent Science projects of their students to the I-SWEEP in 2008.”

While I agree that the research, discoveries and invention of a biodegradable plastic bag of Amin Hataman are cutting edge and laudable, some degree of care and consideration must be taken that this new technology should not impinge on food security.  It should be noted that nata de coco is food and a dollar-earning commodity.  Perhaps, before embarking on a large-scale production of these biodegradable plastic bags (from nata de coco), the supply for raw materials (therefore, coconut) must first be established.  Or else, we will later discover that we cannot eat biodegradable plastic bags.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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REFERENCE:, (2015).  “Filipino 15-year Old Student Bags Multiple Awards for Inventing Biodegradable Plastic Bags”.  Retrieved on September 24, 2015 from

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