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Punekars pick up betel nut, sabai grass items to send plastic packing |

Punekars pick up betel nut, sabai grass items to send plastic packing

Edited: pic in p common file name bark, bin, bag

Caption for bark: Plate and bowls made using betel nut bark

Caption for bin: Surendra Shroff with the garbage bin liners made out of newspapers.

Caption for bag: Cloth bag recycled from a used children’s t-shirt.

Pune: Dump the plastic plates and bowls and ready the table with dinnerware made of betel nuts or sabai grass.

The market is suddenly buzzing with products made from paper, newspaper, leaves and tree bark following the ban on plastic by the state government. Many of these products, which have been in the market for long, are in much demand with people seeking an alternative to essential plastic products that have been in use for years.

From garbage bin liners made from newspapers to cutlery made from the bark of a betel nut tree, a wide assortment of products has come into limelight. The growing demand for these products has also become a source of livelihood for several underprivileged people in society.

Ecoserve founder Anindita Chaudhari said, “My first product was areca nut (betel nut) dinner sets, which are not only sturdy and look good but are also 100% biodegradable. I wanted to provide people with a healthy alternative to plastic and other disposable dinnerware. My next product was sabai grass tableware like table mats, coasters and baskets. These are made made using needle-sharp golden grass.”

Chaudhari said her production unit for the areca nuts dinner sets is located in Coimbatore and she sources the sabai grass tableware from tribals in Odisha. “Since the ban was announced, a lot of plastic dealers has approached me. But I want these products to organically seep through the market. I want to connect more people with the concept of using ecofriendly goods,” she said, adding that the individual sale of her products has gone up by 35-40% in the wake of the ban.

Surendra Shroff of the Rotary Club of Pune Central has been working on a project of recycling newspapers into bags and other products for the last many years.

“This was a project launched by the club and we have imparted the skills of making paper bags and other products among nearly 30,000 people so far. We are using newspapers, cardboard beams and waste cloth linkages from socks manufacturing units as the primary raw materials for our products,” he said.

The aim has been to reduce the use of plastic and provide a cheaper alternative. “We had developed garbage bin liners from newspapers about five years ago, but are getting the traction now. The liners come in sizes matching the dustbins distributed by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Newsprint is known to absorb moisture. Wet garbage such as fruit and vegetable peels and used tea leaves can be dumped in these bags. We have also developed products such as small pouches to replace the mouth-freshner sachets available at restaurants and bags to carry eggs. The paper bags we make can sustain weight between 1.5kg and 15kg,” he said.

Sourcing her products from tribals in Odisha, Neha Tiwari of Thunga-The Paper Bag said, “They have always used plates and bowls made out of siali leaves available in the local forests. These leaves are stitched together and shaped with machines. These are cheap and can be a good alternative to plastic wares.”

She said about 50 women from a village near Alibaug are actively involved in making cloth and paper bags. Till January, the products from her brand had barely any demand. However, a lot of enquiries started pouring in, specially through the social media, since mid-March.

“We are encouraging people to donate their used clothes, including shirts and denims. These can be recycled into cloth bags. The women have been trained in making these bags and we provide them with the raw material. They can earn a living for themselves. We will also tie up with old age homes so that the inhabitants can get engaged in manufacturing such products and earn a living,” Tiwari said.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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