In a first-of-its kind, plastic and paper-free chocolates have been introduced in Chennai ahead of Diwali.
Replacing the regular plastic and paper wrappers, the zero waste chocolates have covers made using biodegradable cocoa husk paper and have been introduced by Kocoatrait, a five-year-old chocolate making unit. The biodegradable paper is made using cocoa husk and reclaimed cotton waste from garment industry.
An aluminium foil wrapping the bar is 24mm thick, plastic-free and recyclable.
Poonam Chordia, the chief chocolatier, while speaking to NDTV said, "Sustainable packaging is the need of hour. Now it's our turn to give back to nature and we wanted to do our bit. We introduced this in Amsterdam early this year."
"These wrappers will decompose in two months if buried," she added.
In a bid to cut carbon footprint, the chocolate group also avoids importing cocoa bean. Instead, bean is sourced from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
"Normally cocoa is imported from Africa, South America, Madagascar or Belgium. Our initiative also helps farmers get more than market price. This also promotes Indian cocoa bean to make it sustainable," said Nitin Chordia, incubator at Kocoatrait.
A group of adults with special needs help print wrappers with interesting activities on the inside, to engage consumers and chocolate lovers.
With e-commerce aggravating plastic and paper wastage along with all forms of packaging by clothing, consumer durable and food industries, environmentalists have welcomed this initiative.
"It's a nice beginning. They should also get this certified by the Central Pollution Control Board," said Dharmesh Shah, policy advisor, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
"Large companies which are responsible for dumping of plastics ought to look at other options. Presently there is not even a buy back mechanism in place," Mr Shah added.
"Up-cycling and biodegradable wrappers, is a great initiative. It would be great if they could raise awareness among children and even demonstrate to them how these wrappers would decompose in specific number of days," Nisha Thota, environmentalist added.