While reducing plastic waste is something most consumers wish to do, it is not an easy goal to achieve. That’s because the cheap, versatile, and durable material is found in almost every household item – from dinnerware to drink bottles to even food wrappers. Now, an Indonesian-based startup has come up with a delicious and nutritious solution to help reduce our dependence on this environmental hazard.
David Christian, the co-founder of Evoware, says the idea of creating the edible and biodegradable products stemmed from concern at the country’s alarmingly high pollution rate. Indonesia is home to four of the world’s worst polluted rivers and is second only to China when it comes to plastic waste. Since single-use packaging is a large contributor to the problem, the innovators decided to tackle that issue first.
After investigating various material options, the company settled on seaweed. In addition to being completely compostable, it is also very sustainable. Unlike corn, commonly used for biodegradable containers, seaweed does not require resources like water, fertilizers, or large amounts of space. According to Evoware, as much as 40 tons of seaweed can be grown in an area the size of a baseball field. The marine algae also helps reduce ocean acidity by absorbing harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Since Indonesian farmers already harvest more seaweed than they can sell, it was easy for the company to find the material.
Though they will not reveal their production process, Evoware asserts the seaweed packaging contains no chemicals and is safe to consume. In addition to wrapping fast food items like burgers and waffles, it can also be used to house things like instant noodle seasoning and single-serve sachets of instant coffee. Consumers simply drop the entire packaging into the hot water and watch the odorless, tasteless, packet melt away, leaving behind no trace of its existence.
While the edible wrappers may not have any taste, the same cannot be said about the single-use cups that the company has also invented. Dubbed Ello Jello, the single-use cups that can be used to serve cold drinks are available in four flavors — orange, lychee, peppermint, and green tea. Similar to the wrappers they are edible and, according to the company, have a texture that is similar to jelly. The best part? You can order the powder and cup moldings and make them at home yourself! Though the current cups cannot withstand hot liquids, Evoware is working on making those as well. If consuming wrappers or munching down used soda cups, no matter how delicious, does not sound appealing, tossing them is perfectly okay given that they will disintegrate within 30 days!
While replacing plastic with the seaweed products may seem like a no-brainer to most of us, it is a hard-sell in Indonesia. According to Christian, “The awareness, understanding, and sense of urgency to minimize the use of single-use plastic is still very low. This makes our bioplastic seem irrelevant and unnecessary.” Also a factor is the cost, which is higher than using plastic. However, Evoware believes they can reduce the price substantially once the company moves to full-scale manufacturing. Hopefully, Evoware will succeed in convincing Indonesians, and people worldwide, that switching to their products will go a long way in protecting our beautiful planet.