Plastic is everywhere, right from products to packaging. While it is convenient and cheap to both manufacturers and consumers, it is harmful to the environment and your health. Plastic leaches toxins that can cause cancer. As per a study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 60 cities of the country, the quantum of plastic waste generation is estimated to be 15,342.6 tonnes per day. Out of this 9,205 tonnes is collected and recycled while 6,137 tonnes remains uncollected and winds up as trash. Plastic cutlery contributes to a significant percentage of this waste. Every year 120 billion pieces of plastic cutlery is disposed in India. All of which accumulates, releasing harmful substances into the soil.
Realising the need for an alternative, Narayana Peesapathy from Hyderabad took matters into his own hands. He visited several plastic cutlery manufacturing units across the country and observed that the manufacturing process.
He found a viable, environmentally friendly solution: edible spoons. He put up his flat as collateral and then set about finding a technology for creating the same. In 2011, he created Bakeys, a highly nutritious edible spoon made out of millet, rice and wheat. A video showcasing Narayana’s invention went viral after it was shared online by The Better India.
What makes it a better alternative? Like the name suggests, it is edible; but if you don’t want to eat it you can choose to discard it, and it will decompose in less than a week. It is sturdy enough to be used to consume hot substances, is free of preservatives and has a shelf life of three years. The spoons are made by drying and hardening—baking them at a high temperature in in-line ovens, which significantly removes the water content within the raw materials. The removal of moisture is key to their long shelf life, moreover, it’s available in different flavours.
But it is not only about reducing waste. Before Bakeys, Narayana was a researcher at the International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad. As a researcher on groundwater management, he realised that rice consumes more water. In a country like India where the demand for rice is always high, he realised that producing less rice and more dryland crops like jowar would help stabilise groundwater levels. By using jowar as a chief ingredient for his product, he is not only creating a market for millets, but also giving farmers an incentive to produce them.
At present, he has hired nine women from lower income groups to work in the production of these spoons and says that once he is able to expand his business, he will be able to hire more people.
But will they be able to replace plastic spoons? Considering the current cost of his products, people might be a little apprehensive. Of course, once people understand the benefits of his spoons in the long-run, it might increase his consumer base. Narayana claims he can make his products as cheap as plastic spoons once he is able to get a market big enough to sustain his brand. The benefits of opting for a Bakey spoon over a much cheaper set of plastic spoons trickles down right from our health and environment to farmers and women of lower income groups. According to Bakey’s website, one-and-a-half million people have already made the switch.
For more information you can visit Bakey’s website.
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