DU Ramjas College students develop biodegradable cutlery with embedded vegetable seeds

Ramjas College developed biodegradable cutlery from stubble with vegetable seeds embedded. This aims to address pollution and unemployment problems.

DU Ramjas College students develop biodegradable cutlery with embedded vegetable seeds Delhi University's Ramjas College students work on biodegradable cutlery. (Picture: Official Facebook)
Press Trust of India | Apr 19, 2023 - 11:26 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: A group of students of Delhi University's Ramjas College have developed biodegradable cutlery from stubble with vegetable seeds embedded in them which, they claim, has the potential to address pollution and unemployment problems.

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Food can be served using these cutlery and can be planted after use so that the seeds in them can germinate, said the group, who are part of the Ramjas chapter of nonprofit organisation Enactus which uses business as a catalyst for positive social and environmental impact. Enactus representatives said the cutlery has been designed to address a multitude of problems, including the menace of stubble burning, waste produced by paper and plastic plates, and continuous deforestation.

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The project, named Waraq, is in the pilot stage and students are looking to establish a workshop for the production of cutlery. Though the price of the biodegradable cutlery is slightly on the higher side, students associated with the project said "its benefit should not be ignored". "Project Waraq aims to tackle the problem of food insecurity, air pollution, and unemployment.

We are producing biodegradable plates made of stubble and plant seeds which will be later planted and will grow into new plants increasing the nutrient levels in the day-to-day diet," Enactus Ramjas Organisational Development Director Tanya Agarwal told PTI. She said the project aims to combine nutritional and environmental welfare. "India is home to 46.6 million stunted children, most of them lacking basic nutrients.

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Apart from this, of the estimated 5,600 tonnes of plastic waste generated in India daily, a huge portion of single-use plastic in our collective footprint comes from dining cutlery," Agarwal pointed out. "Project Waraq will provide jobs. By involving gardeners throughout the process, we provide them with additional livelihood. We are planning to sell the plates to schools, old-age homes, orphanages, and canteens which then enter into self-sustainable models of operations," she said.

The project was among the Top 4 Global Finalists at the Race to Feed the Planet event organised by Enactus. It was chosen from 79 entries from 16 countries by an independent judging panel of sponsor employees, subject matter experts, and Enactus alumni. Next year, the group expects to expand its reach to 100 schools with a mid-day meal scheme.

"We expect to expand our reach to 50 north Indian villages housing 100 schools, freeing roughly 70,000 lives from hunger and poverty. By reconceptualizing the utility of paddy straw by processing them into seed plates, we aim to prevent the emission of 12 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. Estimation suggests that Waraq will be responsible for the re-plantation of 15 lakh trees," Agarwal said.

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