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Indian Railways to replace plastic with compostable biodegradable cutlery
Friday, 08 June, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
In a major effort to introduce environment-friendly practices, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, has now embarked on a project to replace its plastic cutlery with cups and plates made of biodegradable compostable material.

For this, it has teamed up with Yash Papers, India's largest manufacturer of compostable paper, for this project. It has introduced backyard compostable tableware, under the Chuk brand, aboard various Shatabadi, Duronto and Rajdhani trains.

The objective of using compostable tableware is a part of the Railways’ drive to go green. Passengers are being served meals in compostable plates and bowls instead of the polymer ones.

Initially, the pilot project has been introduced in 32 premier trains by the railway ministry, which is expected to be scaled up to other trains after the successful completion of the pilot project.

On the occasion of World Environment Day 2018, IRCTC launched the trial run of environment-friendly bagasse-based food packaging on eight select Shatabdis and Rajdhanis originating from New Delhi.

“IRCTC, with this new initiative, reaffirmed its commitment to a cleaner and greener India, and has taken a small step in this direction to achieve the same,” stated its senior officials.

Bagasse, the fibrous remains left behind after extracting sugarcane juice, is used to make the disposable cutlery and containers in which meals will be served. Provisions will be made to collect the used packaging, which will then be processed for disposal through composting to ensure environmental sustainability.

The endeavour after the initial trails is to progressively introduce bagasse-based packaging as a viable alternative to the non bio-degradable material being currently used on all Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto trains managed by IRCTC in the coming months.

Sugarcane fibre makes the tableware products lightweight, flexible, microwavable and leak-proof. The design has been conceptualised keeping in mind the Indian market.
 
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