By Kim Robson:
Disposable plastic cutlery is non-biodegradable, and transmits toxic chemicals into the environment and wildlife. Worldcentric.org estimates 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in the United States alone. The vast majority of these are thrown out after just one use. Only seven percent is recovered for recycling. But now, indulging in your favorite takeout food could be greener. The single-use utensil market is about to be turned on its end.
Enter Indian entrepreneur and innovator Narayana Peesapaty, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Forest Management and former member of numerous teams like the IWMI and AC Nielsen ORG Marg. Mr. Peesapaty is an expert in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, forest-based cottage industries, institutional initiatives for rural development, and non-conventional energy sources and power in Hyderabad, India. He’s developed edible cutlery that is delicious and nutritious, and remains firm even when immersed in hot soups or beverages. After a meal is eaten, the utensil can be consumed just like a cookie or cracker. Don’t want to eat the spoon? Just toss it — Bakey’s flatware is fully compostable.
Bakey’s website states that “our Edible Cutlery is meant to be eaten after use. If you do not want to eat, simply throw it away. Insects and stray animals will eat them up or they will degrade naturally in less than three days. These are made of flours. The flours are kneaded with plain water — no additional chemicals and not even preservatives. They are 100% natural and made under strict hygienic conditions. We have tried making them with various flours and closed on Jowar (sorghum).”
Sorghum flour uses up to 60 times less water to produce than rice does. Widespread use of edible cutlery and other food packaging products could help grow the necessary market forces that will help Indian farmers gradually shift back to traditional millets instead of focusing primarily on unsustainable rice production.
Some makers of single-use plastic disposable cutlery have in the past focused on developing utensils that are more compostable or biodegradable, which is a step in the right direction and a better alternative to using virgin plastic. But a smarter solution is to actually make these consumer products edible so there’s no lengthy composting process involved and no recycling bin to hunt down. Now you can simply stir your coffee, then eat the spoon. The concept is so obvious and fitting, and could quite possibly reduce a major source of plastic waste.
The spoons, forks and chopsticks provide an alternative to disposable plastic cutlery and disposable bamboo chopsticks. Bakey’s cutlery products are made from various flours, with no additives or preservatives, and baked into their shapes. The cutlery is completely vegan and has no coatings on it. It will naturally decompose “between 3 to 7 days if insects, dogs, or birds do not eat it.” A gluten free version and sweet or savory flavors are also available upon request. Additional alternative ingredients or flavor essences such as a “pulp mix of carrot, beetroot, spinach, and other spices” can be added for an extra cost. Other flavors include ginger-cinnamon, sugar, mint-ginger, celery, black pepper, ginger-garlic, cumin, and carrot-beetroot. They have a long shelf life, too — about 18 months. When produced at volume, Bakey’s products will be as inexpensive as plastic versions.
Bakey’s first orders to backers of the initial crowdfunding campaign will start being shipped at the end of this month, with deliveries arriving by the first week of May.
Want to get on board? On the current Kickstarter campaign running for Bakey’s Edible Cutlery, backers pledging $10 and up will receive 100 of the spoons, and pledges of $24 and up will receive 500 of the spoons. If you’d like to learn more about Bakey’s products, its creation and potential impact, watch this longer video of Bakey’s founder Narayana Peesapaty speaking at TEDxVITVellore:
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