“During one of my travels from Delhi to Vrindavan, I saw something floating on the Yamuna river. I stopped the vehicle to check what it was and it was large amounts of thermocol. What I saw that day in the water left me terribly disheartened,” begins Puneet Dutta.
The visuals from his trip played on his mind and when he reached Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, he saw a long line of people who had queued up to be served food. He says, “While most of them were handed a thermocol plate, one man did not get a plate and he merely used one of the puris as a plate. I watched as he asked the person serving to add one scoop of chole (chickpeas) to the puri. That was an innovative way of using a puri.”
This inspired Puneet to think of edible cutlery and he spent close to six years on research. Thus was born Attaware Biodegradable Private Limited, registered on 15 August 2019.
A Tasty, Sustainable Alternative
The first of his innovative solutions was an edible teacup. Puneet says, “Along with our cup of chai or coffee we are habituated to eating something. Whether biscuits, rusks or mathri (a savoury made in North India). The edible cup, therefore, helps in satiating our need to eat as well.”
After experimenting with multiple materials, Puneet developed an edible cup with a mixture of ingredients like wheat, bajra, jowar, corn and many more grains along with jaggery. “It acts as a great replacement to unhealthy snacks and is also packed with good amounts of calcium, proteins and minerals,” he adds.
The business started out retailing various edible products like plates, spoons and cups.
However, Puneet says that like everything else, the business also underwent a change during COVID-19. “Some of the products that we were retailing became supremely popular while some just lost their way. With no big gatherings and parties taking place, the demand for plates and serveware reduced drastically. A lot of our bulk orders got cancelled and that was when we decided to stick to making edible cups.”
He adds here that through the two years of operations there have been several learnings and one of the key learnings was to use grains and jaggery and not wheat alone to make the edible products, which increases the shelf-life from 6 months to 12 months. These edible cups can be bought via Attaware’s social media platforms for between Rs 10 to 12 apiece. If one is keen on buying it wholesale, Puneet says that it depends on their state of residence.
The brand sells close to 9.5 lakh cups every week. With newer ideas in the pipeline, he says, the sales are only looking to increase.
In 2021, nine new flavours of cups were introduced, which include ginger, caramel, saunf (fennel seeds), elaichi (cardamom), orange, tulsi, strawberry, vanilla and coffee. “These flavours make it easy on the vendor who is catering to different tastes and requests from customers,” he adds.
Like all businesses, Puneet says that his journey is also filled with ups and downs but some of the reasons he keeps going are impact numbers that he sees at the end of the year. “Our study shows that Attaware has mitigated 90-tonne plastic cutlery from reaching landfills, saved over 35,00,000 litres of water and generated 6,000 days of employment for over 50 employees during the pandemic. These are numbers that we are proud of and keep us motivated to do better,” shares Puneet.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)