KOCHI: Several states in the country, including Kerala, have already banned single-use plastic. Though Covid dimmed these efforts, we can all agree that plastics do more harm to the ecology than we can imagine. But if there were effective alternatives, many may be convinced to stop using plastic daily. Ernakulam native Vinayakumar Balakrishnan has come up with ‘edible’ cutlery, which is not just eco-friendly but can add enough dietary fibre and protein to your diet when consumed. His brand ‘Thooshan’, whose products are manufactured by Aura Exim and sold by Vir Naturals Pvt Ltd, is full of good intentions.
Vinayakumar derived the brand’s concept and name from Thooshanila (tapered plantain leaf), as a tribute to god’s own country’s tradition of eating out of disposable banana leaves. The manufacturing happens at a fully automatic robotic plant in Angamaly with extreme caution to hygeine.
“The Government of India proposes to ban single-use plastic by 2022. People need an alternative when this happens,” says Vinayakumar, who left his job as a CEO of a Life Insurance company in Mauritius to start this initiative.
The edible tableware is made out of wheat bran. Launched a month ago, Thooshan will commence its production with edible dinner plates. According to Vinayakumar, food containers, bowls, cups, and cutlery including spoons, fork and knives using edible wheat bran will hit the market soon.“If someone is not happy with eating the plates, they can always discard it. The items can be used as cattle feed, poultry feed, fish feed, and organic manure. The product, after its use, will never accumulate as waste. It will serve as food to all the living organisms,” says Vinayakumar.
The brand also helps local farmers by procuring wheat bran, which is usually a discarded by-product. This also offers them extra income. The edible dinner plates can be microwaved and can withstand temperatures ranging from -10 to 140 degrees. It has a longer shelf life and is also fungus and bacteria-resistant. The light brown, smooth, edible tableware will be soon distributed in all districts.
“As an organic brand, the product will not be sold by retailers selling plastic items,” says Vinayakumar.
He researched for nearly two years before entering his products into the sustainable, eco-friendly bandwagon. The 100 per cent biodegradable product was formulated after consulting with scientists at CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram. The project was incubated at IIT Kanpur, Kerala Agricultural University, and Indigram Labs.