In India it’s culturally common to eat our traditional meals with our hands. Yet we use 120 billion pieces of plastic cutlery every year. A manufacturing company in Hyderabad wants us to get rid of plastic pollution by eating our spoons.
Founded in 2011, Bakeys was born out of the inspiration of former scientist/researcher with ICRISAT, Narayana Peesapaty. He wanted to reinvent an alternative to disposable cutlery and slow down the plastic waste filling our oceans and landfill.
His own big discovery didn’t happen in the lab at all. On a field visit not far from Hyderabad, in the sorghum-growing district of Mahabubnagar, he was served roti, or flatbread, made from the grain. The bread hardened as it cooled, perfect for shoveling up curry and lentils. Sometime later, staring at the white plastic spoon that came with an in-flight meal, he remembered that roti. “So many million tons of plastic garbage,” he thought. “Can we not do something about this?” -Wall street Journal
Thus Bakey’s world first edible cutlery was born. While many people would be happy to stop at spoons that decompose within five days (ie if you rather not eat your spoon), the edible qualities in the cutlery also mean nutritious content as millet, rice and wheat constitute the main ingredients. Furthermore, sweet, savoury and plain flavours are also available which take on the flavours of the food during use for a quick bite straight afterwards.
Conceiving ideas that can help change the world for the better often seem unattainable and unrewarding at the worst of times. Peesapaty left his job in 2006, putting his apartment up as collateral to start up the business. His earliest creations were raw and regularly broke in the oven (as part of the baking and creative process). Even then the task of selling such an idea against cheaper plastic alternatives proved daunting. Attempts to sell them outside grocery stores and parks went in vain for years and the bank even threatened to take his home away. Only with the help of social media website ‘Better India’ which aims to promote good news stories did his company gain widespread popularity in March this year. Now, his factory produces 30,000 spoons a day with the aim of churning out 200,000 a day in the near future.
Not letting himself rest easy, Peesapaty wants to expand his operations to other areas. One ambitious project involves the conversion of waste at Hindu temples such as flowers, leaves, coconut water left as offering into methane for fuel. Of the current batch of products, Bakeys aims to earn certification that their cutlery is gluten free, vegan, organic, fair trade, dairy free, kosher, no preservatives and made from non-genetically modified organisms. To gain the majority of consumers who are still unaware of the product however, his goal is to bring the cost of the spoon down to 1 rupee by sourcing crops directly from farmers.
Although we may find it more convenient to bring back plastic cutlery for events and social gatherings, perhaps looking to sustainable, healthy and quirky products such as this are the way to go if we want to ensure a better future for our planet.