Thinking Outside The Box: Abeer Lala Combats PPE Plastic Waste With Banana Fibre

Thinking Outside The Box: Abeer Lala Combats PPE Plastic Waste With Banana Fibre
Abeer Lala

The Coronavirus didn’t just enter our lives with the disease as the only snag. You would think that by now, plastic waste from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would be a manageable problem, but the reality, in fact, quite the opposite. Luckily for us, young Indian minds are all for making the change.

A student of Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology, Abeer Lala, noticed this very phenomenon and put her creative mind to use. As a result of one of her college projects, she explored the potential of banana fibre as an alternative to plastic polymers used in PPE kits. An idea that is bound to get you thinking, in fact, addresses more than just one problem — India is the world’s largest producer of bananas and yet, its potential has never fully been explored and its low demand leads to insufficient income for its farmers. Additionally, the PPE kits are leading to an increase in non-biodegradable plastic waste, accelerating the plastic problem that already exists.

Abeer explains, “It became obvious to me, that both these issues can be combated by the use of banana fibre as an alternative material to not only increase the income of the farmers but help to deal with the impending waste management issue caused by plastic PPE.”

The process of investigating these possibilities was tiresome. “It required a lot of fieldwork, starting in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu to understand where the fibre comes from and why it’s burnt off, to Madurai to visit artisans who used banana bark as a material to create fascinating home decor pieces for IKEA, and finally, around the industrial areas outside Bengaluru to see how other natural fibres are processed.”

An abundance of trial and error later, Abeer says nothing beats the feeling of finally nailing the outcome she had been hoping for.

As is evident through Abeer’s project, creativity knows no bounds and is imperative to innovate. A little out-of-the-box thinking to execute what some would call a wild idea is just what we need. Who better to trust with it, than the vibrant youth of the country waiting to take opportunities into their own hands?

You can find Abeer’s work here.

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