(Courtesy Tenith Adithyaa)

From single-serve utensils to bags, the world is drowning in plastic, and recycling won’t save us. That’s why environmentally friendly alternatives are desperately needed to prevent more damage to the planet.

One inventive solution, courtesy of 20-year-old Indian inventor Tenith Adithyaa, is what he calls banana leaf technology, a process that he says costs 1 cent each use and strengthens the cell walls and organs of anything made of plants (banana leaves are mostly used because of their availability around the world, he said), stopping their aging for about three years.

Once strengthened, these organic materials can be transformed into cups, plates, cones, envelopes and boxes, which after use can be broken down naturally in 28 days, as opposed to centuries with plastics. Leaves preserved with this technology can resist extreme temperatures and hold more weight, according to Adithyaa.

“Since banana leaf technology is applicable to numerous materials and applications, the usage of these products are countless,” Adithyaa wrote to The Spoon in an email. “We envision a cost-effective biodegradable choice must be available to all human beings regardless of their geographical and economical boundaries.”

Adithyaa didn’t share any details of how the technology works, other than that it’s cellular enhancement and the process doesn’t require the use of chemicals. We currently don’t know whether the technology will work on a large scale.

(Courtesy Tenith Adithyaa)

Adithyaa said he plans to license the technology to companies around the world and currently is in the process of working with a few global enterprises. Partnering with companies allows manufacturing to happen at a local level. For any countries where banana leaves aren’t available, he said other leaves can be used.

It’s unknown how items made of banana leaves will hold up, but Adithyaa isn’t the only working on more natural alternatives to plastics. For example, there’s TIPA, which says its materials break down in 180 days, Zume, the pizza truck company that recently purchased a compostable packaging maker, and Planeteer, creators of an edible spoon (which won the top prize at our Smart Kitchen Summit Future Food competition this week!).

Hopefully, these alternatives will soon replace our dangerous use of plastics and buy the world some time to stave off further ecological disaster.

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