Plastic waste accumulation and disposal have been a major concern for the past few decades. Approximately 9 million tons of plastic waste are dumped in our oceans every year. Wouldn’t you like it if part of it could get dissolved in water?

With the growing concerns for the chemical and biological health of our oceans, the market for water-soluble packaging materials is expanding. Water-soluble materials, also touted as invisible plastic, are here to help fight plastic pollution in our oceans.

Plastic has posed a huge environmental and health hazard, particularly in under-developed and developing countries where effective waste management system is nowhere to be found, let alone recycling or compost facilities. Only 7-10% of the plastic ever produced is recycled worldwide. The characteristic petroleum nature of plastic, especially single-use plastic, makes it hard to recycle.

A huge proportion of the plastic waste spiral down the streams blocks waterways, and ultimately wreak havoc through floods. Or it goes in the landfill where it is burned because it is non-biodegradable, but most of it accumulates in our beaches and oceans.

Single-use plastic is a devil underwater as well. It impacts ocean health, wildlife health, the food web, tourism, and climate change. The long-lived fossil by-product entangles wildlife as it reaches the depths of oceans and photo-degrades into microplastics that are ingested by marine life, thus choking and starving thousands of marine species such as seabirds, fish, whales, sea turtles, seahorses, and other marine mammals to death in either of its forms.

The animals mistakenly believe that they had consumed enough food because their stomachs are full, thus starve to death. Young animals are on the frontline because they aren’t as selective in food choices as their elders.

To beat this crisis, scientists have been looking for innovative eco-friendly substitutes. Many brands are stepping up with zero-waste solutions to reduce the overwhelming amounts of waste ending up in the landfill or ocean.

The various forms of plastic alternatives range from refill options available at coffee shops or public places to discounts for bringing your own reusable cutlery and mugs or biodegradable, compostable bags to water-soluble bags. But most of these solutions rely heavily on the already impaired waste management and recycling system, ultimately adding to the sum of throwaway materials.

The only step towards a sustainable future is promoting hot and cold-water-soluble bags to replace single-use disposable plastic bags. In this blog, we’re going to have a look into the water-soluble bags, an alternative that sounds too good to be true.

PVA Water-soluble Bags

Water-soluble packaging is being used as an alternative for single-use chemical pods to plastic bags. Chilean researchers Roberto Astete and Christian Olivares were the first to create hot and cold-water-soluble bags, Solubags that disintegrate in water within 60-90 days without leaving traces of toxic chemicals.

The team discovered the formula while experimenting with biodegradable detergents. However, the product was not possible without technical support from their Chinese partner Polye Materials in Guangdong province. The two partnering companies have since managed to slash the production cost by 80 percent and selling bags at a competitive price.

These bags are primarily made of Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA or PVOH) and organic plastics. PVA is a bio-based, synthetic polymer that was first discovered in the 1920s. PVA is odorless, non-toxic, biodegradable, and water-soluble. It comes in solid resin granules that are converted into a thin film which then makes all types of bags and chemical pods such as washing machine pods and fertilizers.

The product is known in the market as ecological water-soluble bags as it doesn’t leave any residue behind. It can be degraded by photothermal, oxidation, or microbiological processes. Approximately 20 different types of bacteria and yeasts can degrade PVA into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass. The biomass content of these bags gives off fewer carbon emissions.

Also, it is water-soluble even at cold temperatures; therefore, there’s no need to harm marine life or the ecosystem with warm waters.

Don’t sweat yourself wondering about the tensile strength of the PVA water-soluble bags for use for multiple purposes. It has the same tensile strength as conventional plastic, thus an excellent alternative to fossil-derived plastic. It can be used for carrying groceries, holding weight, or any other daily life conveniences as many times as desired. This non-toxic polymer is a great alternative to single-use plastic bags.

Water-soluble PVA film uses

  1. Water-soluble PVA film is used in needlework and can be liquefied completely by cold water without damaging the clothing.
  2. It is also used in farming for packing seeds. It prevents the seeds from being carried away by wind or consumed by pets. It can also be used for storing toxic chemicals.
  3. PVA water soluble bags are extensively used as laundry bags in hospitals to prevent the danger of contamination and cross-infection to staff.
  4. Other uses include packaging of the garment, food (limited uses), and electrical home appliances.
  5. PVA water soluble bags are the most famous of all. These single-use yet sustainable bags have remarkably replaced conventional plastic bags with an average life of 10-15 minutes.
PVA bags

Features that make PVA film desirable for making water-soluble bags

  1. PVA film is an environmentally friendly material.
  2. It is biodegradable and water-soluble at hot, cold, or room temperatures (it doesn’t dissolve in the rain). However, it can be degraded by microbial action once dissolved in water.
  3. It doesn’t produce microplastics on degradation.
  4. PVA film is resistant to oils and fats like vegetables, minerals, animal oil, organic solvents, etc. In addition, it provides excellent gas and oxygen barrier.
  5. PVA water-soluble bag is as strong as conventional plastic.

Temperature-independent dissolution of water-soluble PVA bags

The hot and cold water-solubility of these bags makes them a great choice for the sustainable life cycle. These water-soluble bags are a stark contrast to conventional plastic, which takes 500 years to degrade, or biodegradable/compostable alternatives, which can take up to 3 months to fully biodegrade.  The latter also sometimes requires optimum conditions that are only possible in large industrial units.

Most PVA water-soluble bags get dissolved instantly in water at 60 to 80 degrees Celsius or within three months at room temperature, depending on the bag type. The water-soluble PVA bags are non-toxic to microorganisms; it doesn’t impede the growth of microorganisms, hence gets fully degraded by the action of microorganisms once dissolved in water. It can also be treated with activated sludge, where it decomposes into water and carbon dioxide.

PVA water-soluble bags have multiple uses

PVA water-soluble bags are FDA approved for use in food and medicine. Water-soluble bags are also widely used as laundry bags in hospitals to minimize the risk of infections for healthcare protection.

Simply put them in the washing machine without opening the bag. It will completely dissolve reducing the risk of infection when handling contaminated linen. Even in the washing machine, water-soluble washing pods are very helpful.

Another important utility of water-soluble bags is their use as pesticide packaging. About 3 to 5 percent of the pesticide residue in the packaging amounts to thousands of tons that end up being discarded in the farmlands. This is responsible for the poisoning of 100 thousand people every year. With water-soluble pesticide packaging, you don’t have to worry about toxic pesticide residue. Simply dissolve the pesticide package in water to get a soluble chemical solution.

And, If you’re a pet owner, water-soluble flush bags are a convenient and hygienic option for you.

A water-soluble bag is different from a compostable bag

Although water-soluble bags are compostable, they can simply dissolve in water. In contrast, compostable bags need proper segregation and a composting facility for proper disposal. Furthermore, the former can degrade biologically in an aqueous environment while compostable bags can’t. Therefore, water-soluble bags are an ideal alternative for countries lacking appropriate waste management systems and composting facilities.

Here’s how you can dissolve water-soluble bags

PVA hot and cold water-soluble bags can dissolve at room temperature, but it takes some time. To facilitate the dissolution, put the bag in a container and pour hot water on top (temperature can be controlled to dissolve between 25, 60, or 90 degrees Celsius as per requirements), which will liquefy the bag in minutes.

You can simply drain the water, or it can get treated in a water treatment facility by microorganisms without breaking into microplastics. These plastic-free water-soluble bags help us reduce plastic waste and prevent toxic plastic bags from ending into the ocean and hurting marine life simultaneously. Even if the water-soluble bags reach oceans, they can break into the ocean without producing toxic microplastics.

Water-soluble bags are resistant to rainwater

PVA hot and cold water-soluble bags are produced in a way that dissolves differently in water with different temperatures. It can dissolve within minutes in boiling water. However, at room temperature, it can take months to disintegrate completely,. Therefore, it is quite resistant to rainwater as it needs to be in contact with water for prolonged periods.

Wondering if PVA hot and the cold-water-soluble bag is toxic to the environment like regular plastic?

The creation of PVA hot and cold-water-soluble bags was a breakthrough invention to save our oceans from the billions of tons of plastic thrown into our oceans each year. A water-soluble bag is completely safe and non-toxic. After its use, it won’t be lingering around for a hundred or five hundred years. In fact, it is the most environmentally friendly alternative to regular plastic that leaves no toxic legacy behind. It would completely dissolve once in contact with water. It has successfully replaced conventional T-shirt plastic bags and paper or fabric in many countries.

What are the challenges with water-soluble technology?

The hot and cold water-soluble PVA bags provide an excellent end-of-life process, but some challenges need to be addressed. One of the big challenges is that would people who are so apt to dispose of their waste take time to dissolve their water-soluble bags?

The next great challenge is faced by the e-commerce industry. The online shopping trend has increased over the past decade, and so does the shipping of plastic-wrapped products around the world. A major chunk of the plastic, Styrofoam, or bubble wrap packaging ends in landfill sites or oceans.

With many brands stepping up their packaging with water-soluble PVA films or bags, moisture during the shipment presents a serious challenge for which tests need to be done. Nonetheless, the water-soluble PVA films or bags can help retailers build a sustainable business by reducing their carbon and plastic footprint.


Looking for PVA hot and cold-water-soluble bags? You’re at the right place. Here at NATURE (greenmaterialproducts.com), we have got eco-friendly water-soluble bags for you. Also visit our product list to select from our biodegradable, compostable products to fulfill your daily life needs and satiate your eco-consciousness.