SEP 01, 2016 11:01 AM PDT

Environmental Innovations: Edible Cutlery Replaces Plastics


Hungry after you’ve already eaten the last spoonful? Eat the spoon!
 
According to City Lab, 40 billion utensils per year are thrown out in the US after just one use; in India, it’s 120 billion. Most of these utensils are plastic, non-biodegradable plastics that sit for a thousand years in landfills waiting to decompose, or worse, form trash islands in the ocean. Such one-time use plastics are anything but sustainable and perpetuate “a mindset of disposability.”
 
That’s where Narayana Peesapaty’s idea for edible cutlery came from. A groundwater researcher and agriculture consultant based in Hyderabad, India, he’d grown frustrated with seeing mounds of plastic wares pile up in his country’s landfills, so he founded Bakeys to create the next frontier of sustainability.
 
The spoons come in different flavors. Photo: Sarah Munir/Bakeys

Since 2011, Bakeys has manufactured over 1.5 million edible spoons made from rice, wheat, and millet in eight different flavors: sugar, ginger-cinnamon, ginger-garlic, celery, black pepper, cumin, mint-ginger, and carrot-beetroot. Left in its packaging, a Bakeys spoon lasts up to three years; exposed to the elements, Peesapaty says the spoons will decompose in four to five days, “or be eaten by other animals, similarly to another biscuit.” In contrast, it takes the average plastic bottle 450 years to break down.

The demand for this innovation is clearly there, as 9,293 backers on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter pledged $278,847, to the startup — 14 times more than its initial $20,000 goal. The crowdsourced funds will support the manufacture of 3 million spoons and, eventually, chopsticks and forks. Peesapaty also has his eye on setting up an international distribution system and reducing production costs. In the Bakeys promotional video, he describes his hope that increasing the company’s output will motivate farmers to focus their efforts on growing millet over rice, which requires 60 times the amount of water to cultivate. The utensils are also a tasty source and cheap source of nutrition - you can buy 100 for $10 at Kickstarter.
 

Nine women from lower income groups are already employed for Bakeys production and Peesapaty is working directly with farmers to secure the ingredients for the cutlery.

Who knows, maybe soon we’ll be eating our plates and bowls too!

Sources: City Lab, Business Insider, Tree Hugger, Bakeys
About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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