Hospitality industry can profit in a big way by going green
Pandemic has created positive outlook for customers to adopt disposable environment-friendly cutlery
An eco-friendly company, Prakritii uses naturally shed leaves from areca (palm) trees to make tableware that is safe for the environment. Its sole aim is to provide eco-friendly products to cut down the rate at which pollution is destroying the environment. In an exclusive interview with BIZZ BUZZ, Vaibhav Jaiswal, Director & Co-Founder of Prakritii Cultivating Green, says: "The Covid is the game-changer that leads to the paradigm shift from using re-useable crockery to eco-friendly tableware in the hospitality industry. Thus, the post Covid world will hold immerse opportunities for our business."
How did you begin your tryst with nature?
The idea behind the inception of Prakritii came into form in our graduation days. While in college, we noticed how human activities are adversely affecting the environment and realized the danger it will cause in the long run. Environmental pollution is a serious threat facing humanity and other life forms on our planet today. Plastic is one of the most harmful elements that is harming our environment. Plastics are non-biodegradable and stay in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years and trickle toxic substances into the groundwater. Biodegradable products can, therefore, reduce landfill mass by as much as 30 per cent. This gave us the thought of starting a venture that can be beneficial for the environment and profitable as well.
How did you zero in on environment-friendly disposables?
Witnessing the harm that plastic causes to the environment, we analyzed the ways it is consumed in large quantities as disposables. Prakritii was incepted in 2011 with a unique concept to reduce this waste creation by using 100 per cent biodegradable tableware and cutlery. The company uses naturally shed leaves from areca (palm) trees to make tableware that is eco-friendly and safe for the environment. With the aim to provide eco-friendly products to cut down the rate at which pollution is destroying the environment, Prakritii endeavours to build a brand that resonates with socially- responsible behavior.
How big is the biodegradable tableware market and what is the growth potential in the near future?
The biodegradable tableware market is on a growth streak as it is witnessing increasing popularity due to innovative and non-toxic tableware products. According to a report by Market Research Future, the biodegradable tableware market is projected to reach $990.6 million by 2025 at a CAGR of 5.98 per cent between 2019 and 2025. Due to the rise in pollution levels and plastic being a major source of this, people are increasingly becoming aware of the ill effects this will cause in the future.
Governments are also taking initiatives to restrict the use of plastic tableware. For instance, the Indian government has replaced plastic cutlery, teacups, and water bottles with steel and biodegradable products in all government offices.
When do you reckon the hospitality industry will be back to normal times?
The global pandemic has affected the hospitality industry as it has impacted the other sectors. The loss in terms of profit and employment is immense and it will take a long time for the demand to come back to its normal levels. Keeping in mind the long-term effects of the pandemic and the vaccination drive in progress, we expect a slow but steady revival in the industry.
What is your strategy during the Covid and post Covid?
As the company was zero debt and had strategically managed business in the past, reserves and surplus were used to hold the team together. During the entire period, no employees were sacked. Later, in the third and fourth quarters, as restrictions were liberalised, the market took its pace. Although the pace couldn't compensate for the loss incurred but helped in sustaining.
The Covid is the game-changer that leads to the paradigm shift from using re-useable crockery to eco-friendly tableware in the hospitality industry. Thus, the post-Covid world will hold immerse opportunities for our business.
What kind of response you are expecting for your disposable environment-friendly cutlery post Covid?
The pandemic has created a positive outlook among people regarding disposable environment-friendly cutlery. In the past one year, we have seen a change in the attitude of people towards disposable cutlery. Zero contact is the main reason for this choice but what remains to be done is cutting the use of plastic and adapting to eco-friendly cutlery. The tableware by Prakritii from areca leaves is a better alternative that will mutually benefit the pandemic stuck population and the environment.
How does eco-friendly dinnerware benefit the environment, economy and society?
Businesses across the world have become more cautious in their practices and are finding new ways to become more eco-friendly and help tackle climate changes. Eco-friendly dinnerware holds the key to sustainable efforts enhancing both nature and the economy. It will thus help the environment by reducing the waste and eventually lead to a boost in the economy benefiting society. We are making something great from waste and creating a sustainable environment. Every technology, machine, the infrastructure of Prakritii Tableware made and developed in India thus we are promoting Swadeshi and adding to the GDP of the nation.
Why should restaurants switch to biodegradable tableware keeping in mind the coronavirus outbreak?
Like other businesses, restaurants also have experienced the effect of the pandemic. Customers have become careful in the way they dine out. The trend of takeaways gradually increased which was already there in entire Europe and USA. Thus, the use of biodegradable tableware has come to the forefront. A number of these disposables includes plates, bowls, spoons made from areca/palm leaf, bamboo and paper straws, paper cups, paper containers, bamboo stirrers and other bamboo cutlery.
How has your company grown and evolved since it was founded?
Prakritii was founded with limited resources through personal contacts with an initial investment of Rs 20,000. The current turnover of the business is Rs 18 crore and through this, we have generated more than 120 direct employment and more than 700 indirect employment.
The product line has also diversified. We started by just manufacturing areca plates but as the business grew there was also huge need/demand for complementing products like cutleries, glasses, stirrers, etc which were widely used by the target audience we cater to. This has led us to diversity in various product categories of wooden cutlery, bamboo stirrers & skewers, paper glasses & takeaway boxes, etc.
We have been successful to improve our customer base largely where domestic customers have increased by 38 per cent every year on an average in the past three years and export clients have increased by 23 per cent every year in the past three years. The turnover has been increasing by 57 per cent (average) every year in part three years.