A whopping 91% or 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic is not recycled today, engendering to plastic waste generation worldwide. Plastic pollution is an insidious problem, devouring the world without any reluctance.
Plastic is durable, inexpensive, lightweight and in abundance, but its durability and volume are why the environment is in trouble. Therefore, it is imperative for us to take action and deal with this problem before it gets too late. Putting Restorative Innovation framework in our action can help us get there!
In a situation, where a person is encountered with an environmental issue, they either act as an individual or they feel amenable to represent the world to tackle it. With a determination to do the latter, Mr. Narayana Peesapati, a former scientist from Hyderabad, started his quest to find the perfect product-market fit to overcome excessive plastic consumption. He was completely baffled by the plastic waste figures of India — 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste are generated every day, of which 6,000 tonnes remain uncollected and littered.
He began finding alternative solutions to the plastic used in restaurants in India as they contributed to the majority of plastic consumption. His ‘Eureka moment’ was when he was travelling in a flight from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad; “The idea struck me while I spotted few people use Sorghum chips to pick food served on a flight. Later, I was familiarized with sorghum flat bread which is hard and tough in texture. I had to soak them in pulses for a while till it turned softer to consume. This pushed me to work on an organic spoon made of food, as an alternative to plastic spoons”, said Mr. Narayana Peesapati. This idea marked the beginning of Bakey’s edible cutlery — a restorative innovation champion.
Bakeys Edible Cutlery or Plastic?
Now, where does all the plastic, we use on a daily basis go? Most of it ends up in landfills and more than we can imagine, ends up on the loose as plastic pollution, eventually making its way into our waterways causing air, water and land pollution. It has the overall effect of impacting the balance of the entire ecosystem. This is where Bakeys Edible cutlery comes into action and emerges as an important addition in solving the environmental issue. The vegan friendly spoons are made from rice, wheat and sorghum, an ancient grain originally from Africa. Sorghum was chosen as a primary ingredient for its tough quality (it doesn’t go soggy in liquids) and because it is suitable for cultivation in semi-arid areas.
Bakeys current target are the fast food chains in India, where the majority of plastic wastage takes place. The cutlery comes in three flavours — savoury (salt and cumin), sweet (sugar) and plain. “It tastes like a cracker, a dry cracker because we don’t put any fat in it. It can complement any food. The taste of the food gets into the spoon,” says Narayana Peesapaty. While plastic is not biodegradable and neither edible, Bakeys offers what plastic does not provide us with; Bakeys, is not only biodegradable, but edible. The latter characteristic subsumes its value proposition.
Bakeys has partnered with a popular Indian café chain — Café Coffee Day as their prime supplier of spoons. According to the company, the spoons decompose within 4–5 days if not used and has a shelf life of three years. Assume, that a person throws away a pair of disposable utensils each week, which means that 104 utensils are disposed annually and if everyone in a country does the same, it will result in the disposal of about 500,000,000 utensils each year. But, if a restaurant used Bakey’s edible spoon, the disposable utensils thrown away by an average individual with a tendency to order out at least once a week, would be reduced to zero. As of now, Bakeys sells 1.5m spoons per year to catering companies serving food at weddings and other events, but Peesapaty hopes take-up among food vendors will grow.
Bakeys Edible Cutlery — a Restorative Champion?
“Restorative Innovation is a framework and an innovation model that refers to new strategies, ventures, products, concepts that are designed to restore health, humanity & the environment in addition to creating and capturing a promise of value for the consumer.”
The characteristics of the above framework are as follows:
- High price
- Superior Quality
- Altruistic Founder Mindset
Going by the above definition, Bakeys adopts the restorative innovation model. The cutlery is priced higher than comparable providers’ mainstream product which adds up to Rs. 120(2.3 SGD) for 100 pieces of plastic spoons as opposed to Bakey’s price of Rs. 300 (5.9 SGD) for the same quantity, fulfilling the first characteristic of the model.
It is edible cutlery and thus, has to be of better quality than plastic, thereby catering to the second characteristic of the model.
Considering the vision of the founder — Mr. Narayana Peesapati, which is to reduce plastic pollution worldwide and contribute to the environment as a staunch citizen of the world indicates his altruistic mindset.
Bakeys has successfully paved its way to becoming a restorative champion.
The current manufacturing unit currently only employs 12 people for production and packaging work, producing around 30,000 spoons in 24 hours. Their resources are limited in terms of employees, machinery and funds invested.
Mr. Narayana is now working towards upgrading to a more advanced fully automatic machine, which would have the capacity to manufacture 150,000 spoons in 24 hours. This would bring down the labour costs involved in having manual checks at every station with a semi-automated machine.
The initial funds came directly from Mr. Narayana’s personal assets and increased substantially as more and more funding partners came to know about the initiative via crowdfunding platforms.
With the founder’s vision so high and his strong determination to combat plastic pollution, he has innovated something big and made the impossible, possible.
Now you can have your spoon and eat it too! Here’s to changing the world, one spoon at a time with Bakeys.