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Going Green: Kerala Moots Banana Leaves As Plastic-Free Food Wrappings

About 50,000 plastic containers are used on a daily basis in the city, and what is worse, about 90 per cent of these show up in biodegradable waste collected by waste collectors.

Online food delivery services have indeed freed our busy lives from the chore of cooking. However, the fact that each order comes in single-use plastic packaging is a concern that cannot be ignored anymore.

Food delivery services have been functioning in Tier-1 cities for a while now, but are relatively new in Thiruvananthapuram.

Even so, the plastic menace is at an all-time high.

According to Manorama, about 50,000 plastic containers are used on a daily basis in the city, and what is worse, about 90 per cent of these show up in biodegradable waste collected by waste collectors.

In a bid to completely crack down on this disturbing trend, the city corporation of Thiruvananthapuram has come up with a green alternative—plantain leaves for food packaging!

For representative purposes. Source: Facebook.

The civic body plans on convening a meeting with various representatives of online food delivery services to discuss the issue and the implementation of these novel alternatives.

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Aside from reducing plastic waste, with this move, the authorities aim to alleviate the health concern which arise from packing hot food in plastic containers.

While the plan is yet to be implemented in the city, we pondered over how these simple yet eco alternatives could make all of our lives better—especially in metropolitan cities where the issue is even more serious. While there are quite a few cheap alternatives available these days, the step has to begin with service providers.

Here are five green and safe food-packaging alternatives that delivery providers can start using. Not only will these alternatives decimate plastic from our daily lives, but also help to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

1. Arecanut packaging

For representative purposes. Source: Facebook.

Plates and containers made from arecanut leaf sheaths are perhaps the best examples of economically viable alternatives to disposable plastic plates and cups. Slowly gaining popularity amidst the masses, these can be easily found in departmental stores, and if the same material is utilised for food delivery packaging, imagine the reduction in plastic use!

2. Papaya Stalks for straws

Source: Thangam Pandian/ Facebook.

This effective utilisation of natural resources came to fore when a coconut seller in Madurai started using papaya stalks in place of plastic straws after the blanket ban on plastic was issued in Tamil Nadu. What a revolutionary concept!

3. Biodegradable Polymer film for packaging

Three professors from Delhi University have developed a biodegradable polymer film after years of research to replace the plastic wrap. Their solution includes a plastic film that dissolves in water and soil, in two days and one month, respectively. What is even better, it does not contain any harmful material and is food safe.

4. Bagasse based food containers

For representative purposes. Source: Facebook.

Replacing plastic packaging and cutlery quite efficiently, Bagasse disposables are a fantastic solution for online delivery services when it comes to packaging food. Comprising the fibrous remains left behind after extracting sugarcane juice, this option is perfect to pack anything—from burgers to full-fledged meals!

5. Siali Leaf plates

For representative purposes. Source: Facebook.

A traditional practice that has saved tribal women of Odisha from impoverishment, plates made from siali leaves have quite a huge fan following across the world. Just the way Kerala is rooting for banana leaves to end single-use plastic issue, the unassuming siali leaves can also be sourced and optimally used for packaging.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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Written by Lekshmi Priya S

Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.