Reducing use of plastic has been one of the most famous environmental campaign. From using reusable shopping bag, bringing your own drinking bottle and last year Indonesia’s government issued plastic bag charges at retailers. It even now gets more creative as the challenge to fight the ongoing issue risen. One of the solution being offered is edible dishware.
Jakarta based company, Evoware, has created drinking cup made of seaweed. The company thru its website claimed that it is “actually food that works as tableware”. Working with local seaweed farmers, this edible cup called Ello Jello use no preservative, artificial sweetener, gluten free and gelatin free.
The cup varies in flavors and sizes. Peppermint, green tea, lychee and orange, making it a delicious jelly cup to consume. If you don’t want to eat it, you could use it as plant fertilizer. This cup degrades in 30 days resulting to zero waste product. Something to consider for your next get together event as it will reduce plastic waste from drinking water cup.
Single-use utensils was a big hit and even up to this point is still very much an option for many. One of the reason is because of the convenience it provides. All you have to do is just using it and throw it away. No fuss no muss. Especially bringing it home, wash it and then reuse it like stainless utensils. Single-use utensils as we know raging from plastic cup, plastic cutlery to lunch bag made of paper.
Indonesia creates 3.22 tons plastic waste a year making it the second highest plastic marine polluter in the world. The fact discovered after a result of 2015 research released by Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment. Evoware co-founder, David Christian said what he wants to do is to fight the growing number of plastic waste especially the one he saw in Jakarta.
Indonesia alone produces up to 10 million tons of seaweed every year. However, the cost of Ello Jello makes the selling price higher up to five times compared to plastic cup.
Previously, KFC UK sold edible cup made from biscuit, wrapped in sugar paper then lined with a layer of heat-resistant white chocolate. This cup was created to mark the launch of KFC’s Seattle Best Coffee in 2015. Invented in the creative lab of The Robin collection who also design The Cherry Room in collaboration with Pepsi Max, the cup called the “Scoff-ee Cup”. KFC only had them for limited quantity as a special treat for the customers.
Cutlery Too Getting a Greener Makeover
A company named Bakey’s made edible cutlery since 2016. It made of Jowar mixed with rice and wheat. Jowar is a kind of sorghum, which is the fifth most commonly grown grain crop in the world after wheat, rice, corn and barley. Sorghum is tasty and gluten free grain. While this cutlery is still made with mixed of wheat, it could be made total gluten free. Now it comes in three different flavors, plain; sweet and savory.
Bakey’s claimed their cutlery has no chemicals, no preservatives, no fat, not emulsifiers, no artificial color or milk product in it. It contains only plant product with a touch of salt to give a bit of taste. Thus, it is 100% natural, biodegradable and suitable for vegetarian/vegan. They rely on high temperature baking to make the product 100% natural. If you prefer to not consume it after using, you could throw it to moist soil or pour water on it. It will disintegrate in less than three days. Insects and stray animals may consume it too. The spoon itself could be stored for about 18 months.
The Evolution of Plastic Dishware
Before, the main focus was to create a biodegradable & compostable single use utensils. Although the alternative is considered good but it is still not enough as for the length of composting process and recycling bin is not something easy to be found in most countries.
A lot of plastic as a petroleum by-product contains polystyrene, code #6 in plastic container, which leach a chemical called styrene. Exposure to styrene could lead to eye irritation, headache and depression. Some studies even suggested it may be linked to the leukemia and lymphoma.
Even plastic food container labelled as food-safe is not totally toxic free. Most people use BPA-free plastic container because it is safe. Or so they think. But those BPA-free containers often leach different chemical that as dangerous as BPA.
Those chemicals mimic the estrogen which leads to increasing the risk of diabetic, obesity, cancer and reproductive problems. Another compound named phthalates linked to 20 percent reduction in male fertility. In the past, BPA or Bisphenol-A presented in plastic container made of polycarbonate, or code #7.
CertiChem, a plastic-testing company, tested 455 products. It discovered that nearly all of the items, including those with BPA-free label leached chemicals that mimicked estrogen. Mike Usey, CEO of PlastiPure, sister company of CertiChem, says he wouldn’t call any plastic safe. “Some are just safer.”
In 2012, the FDA in USA banned BPA product for baby bottles and sippy cups. The agency considered the chemical is safe for adult in low doses. But it so raises question: How much plastic is too much?
So, the challenge is not just to come up with dishware with zero waste, but also good for health. Benefit the environment and body condition. There is too a cost challenge in production and research and development. But come to think of it, the edible dishware may just be what we will find in the near future. What could be a better option that just corn-based, biodegradable plastic as it takes time to compost.
Though the concept is still unfamiliar for most people, it got potential. The current hot dog as we know it today is one straightforward example of edible cover/dishware.
Looking back to 19th century, hot dog was only sausage with no bun and to prevent customers’ hand from being burn, a German immigrant Feuchtwanger provided them with gloves. Only to find most customers never returned it and he lost profit. Until one day his wife came up with the idea to replace gloves with bun. Something edible and eco-friendlier.
One day is we’re lucky, we could be living in the era where dishware is not only eco-friendly but also edible.