Paper or Plastic or Leaf? MLA Vedavyas Kamath wants Hoteliers to Pack Food in Banana Leaves

Paper or Plastic or Leaf? MLA Vedavyas Kamath wants Hoteliers to Pack Food in Banana Leaves

Mangaluru: Pretty soon, you may start hearing whether you want your food packed in Plastic, Paper or in banana leaf? MLA (South Constituency) Vedavyas Kamath during the beginning of this year After launching the ‘No Horn Wednesday’ during the beginning of this year on the model of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s pet project, ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, MLA D Vedavyasa Kamath ahs now come up with yet another initiative to cut down on the use of plastic, which has been ruining the environment. Let’s face it, pollution is a pressing issue that affects all of us. While the government and the public are making efforts to rely less on plastic to reduce pollution, it looks like this supermarket found a simple and effective way to significantly reduce its use of plastic.

A Supermarket in Thailand, who started packing items in banana leaves got a lot of attention from thousands of netizens recently after a post on the Facebook page about its banana leaf packaging went viral. The photos which showed fresh produce wrapped in banana leaves, received a lot of praise from netizens, garnering over 15,600 shares on Facebook. While a lot of them praised the environmentally-friendly measure, some also commented that this packaging could also double as compost. Even though some plastic is still being used in this packaging, many agreed that this still shows some progress. However, with many nations cutting back on these plastics, it appears that the banana leaf is indeed making a huge comeback!

Food items packed in banana leaves at a restaurant in Thailand

And locally here in Mangaluru, we will have to see whether the new concept by MLA Kamath will click well because his initiative of “No Horn Wednesday” didn’t go well- since honking on Wednesday is as bad as rest of the weekdays. Responding to an appeal by MLA D. Vedavyasa Kamath, it is learned that a few hotels and restaurants in the city have now begun using plantain leaves for the primary packing of food being delivered for online orders. The MLA took to social media twice recently urging hotels, restaurants, online and app-based food delivery operators to avoid using plastic.

In his first post on 19 June 2019 the MLA wrote: “Greetings Kudla, Plastic waste should be controlled well in Mangalore, Here is one step, I request hoteliers of Mangalore to pack the dishes (non-gravy) ordered to be covered in banana leaf. Tulunad is famous for having dishes which is made with help of leaves, like Manjel aretha Gatti ( Patholi), Moode, Gunda (kottige), etc, and we all know how the aroma is coz of it. Let us implement this in packaging. As the delivery of food is increasing in Mangaluru, I would like the food delivery apps to support this cause by supporting our hoteliers of Mangaluru in providing the best benefit to them. This will not only reduce plastic waste but also will increase the taste of the dish because of the banana leaf flavor. Please Note Its just a request for the betterment of Mangaluru, not a rule.”

In his second post on 22 June, 2019 MLA Kamath wrote: “I am working from all angles to make Mangaluru plastic waste free. Found this video on the internet and it shows that we can clearly use areca leaf containers for delivery of food etc. I also request all of you to use these containers instead of plastic during any functions while giving sweets to the guests. Catering service owners kindly look into this. Food delivery apps and hoteliers can try this out. Our region has areca business and this will boost the business for our own farming people. If all of you support this initiative Mangaluru will be an example to this country which will definitely make all of us proud. Change is not easy but never impossible if all support for our city’s betterment. Let’s try to implement this.” Both Zomato and Swiggy wrote that they were working towards green packing solutions.

Though some hotels and restaurants use plantain leaf for primary packing, they continue to use plastic for secondary packing and deliver using plastic bags. Swarna Sunder, vice-president, Association of Hotels and Restaurants in Dakshina Kannada speaking to media said that areca cups in different sizes and shapes are not available in the market in enough quantity. Thinner and affordable cloth bags are also not available. If thin plantain leaves are available in the city it would help many to pack the food easily. Hence, Sunder claimed that hoteliers have been forced to use plastic and are not able to switch over to green packaging completely. He said that the association fully endorsed the MLA’s appeal and supported it.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Vadi Shenoy, who manages Tandoor Bar and Restaurant-Karangalpady, Mangaluru said, “MLA’s concept is working to a certain limit, and we are happy with it, so also the customers. Even though we don’t use plastic covers or containers, presently we are experimenting packing dry food items in banana leaves. Sometimes we even pack semi-gravy items in banana leaves using butter paper to prevent leakage. If our customer is happy with their food packed in banana leaves, we may fully go plastic-free at our restaurant”

It is learned that Zomato and Swiggy have welcomed MLA’s idea and plan to send out food packed in banana leaves, instead of containers or bags made of plastic. After MLA Kamath’s appeal, Swiggy replied back saying, “That’s a great suggestion, Vedavyas! We will make sure to relay this to our restaurant partners and help implement it as soon as we can”. Even Zomato replied saying, “Hi Vedavyas! Thank you for your valuable suggestion. User experience is our top priority and we welcome all constructive ideas that help us improve our services. We will take this up with our team so that we can start it soon as possible”.