South Africa is addressing the challenge of plastic pollution and its impacts on human health and the environment. Munch Innovation, a company incubated at The Innovation Hub’s Climate Innovation Centre South Africa Business Incubation Programme, has designed and produces edible bowls to replace single-use plastic bowls for the food and catering industry.
Over eight million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year, and the impacts of plastic pollution can be seen across our oceans. Lightweight litter, such as chip packets and sweet wrappers, are often carried by the wind down stormwater drains and urban canals, making their way into streams and rivers and, ultimately, the sea (1). More than half of the plastic entering the ocean is less dense than the water, meaning that it will not sink once it enters the sea.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is the largest of the world’s oceans’ five offshore plastic accumulation zones. It is located halfway between Hawaii and California. The GPGP covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometres (2). By making use of single-use plastic containers, we are contributing to garbage islands like this one.
A study conducted by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2017 on Plastics Materials Flow confirms that packaging constitutes the largest component of single-use plastic waste generated in South Africa (3).
Neeraj Mannie, Founding Partner of Munch Innovation, strives to provide a solution to this problem. ‘My biggest concern is the single-use packaging used in the food and catering industry. This causes waste to accumulate daily, with marine life suffering and our landfills filling up,’ said Mannie.
Munch Innovation makes edible bowls to replace single-use plastic bowls used in the food and catering industry – a first for South Africa. The bowls are made with organic ingredients, including unbleached and stone-ground wheat flour, bran, canola oil and rooibos extract. ‘We pride ourselves on the fact that we do not use colourants and chemical preservatives. The rooibos extract acts as a natural preservative,’ said Mannie. ‘Not only does our product prevent pollution, but it adds nutrient value to your meal,’ he added.
The company’s bowls are being manufactured in Cape Town and are currently being exported to clients in Ghana, Dubai and Belgium. The bowls are also being sold locally. ‘It is the only edible food bowl in the world produced here in South Africa and we want people to know that there are alternatives to plastic available,’ said Mannie. Munch Innovation were showcased on CNN Innovate Africa and will be showcased at the Global Innovator Pavilion for Expo 2020, the largest expo in the world, to take place in October 2021.
‘Finding a solution to the single-use plastic problem is a win for our country. We are all responsible for providing a cleaner future for generations to come, keeping our landfills as empty as possible and diminishing pollution to the ocean. Munch Innovation has set an excellent example in this direction,’ said Pieter Holl, CEO of The Innovation Hub.
The Innovation Hub