Cibhi Selven has a bag of tricks up his sleeve — a dissolving plastic-like cover for one!
I am not plastic — in various font sizes of bold, reads a rather ordinary carry bag. Do pay heed to that declaration and don’t get carried away by the polythene-looking material — because if you drop the bag into hot water, in a matter of seconds, it will dissolve into nothing. Laughing at our disbelief, this is not the first time city-based entrepreneur Cibhi Selven has encountered a similar reaction. With stringent bans on plastics being enforced in The Nilgiris late last year, the 26-year-old Tiruppur native was one of the pioneers in the city to create a completely bio-degradable bag that is 100 per cent free of plastics.
Growing up in Ooty, where lessons on the three-R-Model — Recycle, Reuse and Reduce — were part of daily life, it was in December 2016 that, armed with a Masters in Finance from the University of Massachusetts, Cibhi left his lucrative job at Mobis (an auto parts company) to come back home. His aim — to eliminate single-use plastic bags with biodegradable alternatives.
“We have all been told and warned that plastic is bad and its effects are alarming but no one gives alternatives. To be honest, cloth or paper have not been able to replace the utility and affordability of a plastic.”
Founding Regeno Bags in late 2017, Cibhi and his team created prototypes using tapioca starch and other natural extracts to form a complete biodegradable bag. “Completely free of common plastics like polypropylene, polystyrene and polythene, these bags are organic and hence react to the environment around them and change shape. But they still make for perfectly good garbage bags,” he says with a laugh. With customisation options available, these bags can be created in different shapes, sizes and colours. However, we learn that the machinery and technology used to create the bags are imported from Europe. “We are looking for local inventions to help cut down costs.”
Ring in the change
After gaining support from the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, the city is now the second in South India after Bengaluru to have bio bags, a milestone in this entrepreneur’s efforts. Following stabilising the viability of the model in the state of Tamil Nadu, Cibhi is looking at partnering with retail distributors to create a network and increase the reach. Aside from bio bags, he is also planning to take a step further into introducing a range of areca and sugarcane tableware and cutlery along with ventures to recycle the vast existing plastics. On a footnote, he adds, “It costs higher than plastic, but like any product, if people adopt these with more awareness, the costs would easily become more affordable, that mind shift is what we need most.”
Product ranges are priced from Rs 2 to Rs 25. Available online.