India generates 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.[ref] In March 2018, the Maharashtra State cabinet cleared a proposal to ban all single-use plastic items on all levels-manufacture, sale, retail and storage.
This project was taken up as an initiative to create an easy to manufacture, eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic tableware.
According to the Clean Air Council, enough paper and plastic utensils are thrown away every year to circle the equator 300 times.
It is estimated that close to 40 billion individual plastic utensils are produced each year, and with such low rates of reuse and recycling, most of them end up in our landfills, beaches and oceans. They are likely to remain there for hundreds of thousands of years.
We, at REDX WeSchool have developed a methodology and a device designed to reduce the labour, cost and space required to manufacture single-use tableware products. The tableware made are eco-friendly, affordable, hygienic and withhold the green color of the leaves.
An increasing number of people are opting for eco-friendly products to make an impact on the growing climate concerns or due to bans on single-use plastic products. The proposed device can bridge the gap of shortage of eco-friendly alternatives in the market by giving entrepreneurs the opportunity of setting up businesses to manufacture affordable leaf tableware. The device merges the bonding, molding and cutting of leaves to form tableware into the same device hence reducing the time, and the lever mechanism reduces the manual effort required in the manufacturing process.
As a part of the extremely low-cost device, a state-of-the-art methodology has been developed to use leaves and an edible binding agent to bind leaves. The binding agent along with acting as an adhesive, also makes the leaf product sturdy. The leaf tableware while being functionally on-par with the plastic counterparts, cost around ₹0.5/- to ₹1/- which is lesser than most of the eco-friendly alternatives. The research brings together an ecosystem by the development of a unique and effective manufacturing methodology, affordable manufacturing device, and biodegradable single-use tableware.
Easy to operate- The counterweight mechanism makes the molding process easier and faster.
Tabletop- The combination of gluing, molding and cutting makes the machine and hence the process space efficient.
Affordable- The materials and mechanisms used makes the machine easy to manufacture and affordable.
One-Stop process- No stitching or prior cutting of the leaves.
The bowls made with the machine were tested at different venues and festivals to record user feedback and check the performance of the final product
Food of different types like sauces, curry, solid and semi solid food were served in canteens and temples.
No leakages were reported and 80% of the user rating was 8+ out of 10.
We believe the device has a huge socio-economic potential to allow micro-entrepreneurship in demographics like India where low-cost manufacturing devices can reduce unemployment and drive people towards a miniature manufacturing setup.