Single-use plastics have been at the forefront for those who are environmentally-conscious, with some innovators attempting to find eco-friendly replacements.
Rhea Mazumdar Singhal managed just that and created her own tableware company in 2010, Ecoware. The company designs, creates, and sells 100% biodegradable tableware.
Plus, it looks good and is environmentally-friendly.
Finding the product
“I wanted to build something that is safe to eat out of and easy to dispose of. I wanted something that would not change the nutritional value of food, nor did I want this product to end up in yet another Ghazipur (landfill). I was very clear about this from the very beginning,” said Singhal.
Singhal visited India in 2009 and was appalled at the amount of single-use plastic being used in the country. Trained as a pharmacologist, she also knew the dangers that plastic has on human health.
So Singhal took matters into her own hands and started to look at options to replace plastic. She first had to find a product that could be used. She researched many different types of biomass.
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Ultimately, she found sugarcane bagasse, which, once cleaned under hygienic conditions, worked perfectly for her Ecoware vision.
These incredible products can withstand temperatures that range between -20 to 140 degrees Celcius. Furthermore, they entirely biodegrade into soil after 90 days without any assistance.
Finding the clients
Creating the tableware was the easy part.
Next, Singhal had to find clients who were willing to switch from their long-term plastic-selling — typically less expensive — manufacturers to more expensive, yet more ecologically aware, biodegradable tableware.
Singhal recalled, “Our first step was to educate and build awareness. We had to teach them what biodegradable and compostable meant why it is good for you, why it is good for the environment, etc. And this is why I am asking you to pay [a] little bit extra compared to plastic.”
After making the rounds at local markets and companies, Singhal landed her first big client in 2010: the Commonwealth Games. After this massive exposure, her company hit the ground running and was able to secure other big contracts.
Even though Ecoware’s products are roughly15% higher in price than plastic equivalents, clients are no longer bothered by the price. Singhal said that the questions started changing, and focused more on: “How quickly can you get it to me, can you customize it for me, can we co-brand.”
It’s a fantastic step in the right direction, especially with so many environmental concerns regarding plastics headlining the newspapers.
Published on interestingengineering.com written by Fabienne Lang