What no one tells you about ecofriendly areca palm leaf plates

Areca palm tree plantation

Until the end of the last decade, environment-friendly and sustainability were not a deciding factor in our purchases. But now we’ve started seeing the negative effects of plastic disposables on the environment.

So, to help the nature and to protect it, people started choosing earth friendly products for every aspects of their life. They choose areca palm leaf plates over the plastic disposable plates.This article will focus on the areca palm leaf plates manufacturing process. 

Eco plates are available in the following materials in the market.

  1. Areca palm sheaths
  2. Sugarcane Bagasse
  3. Corn Starch

People prefer areca palm leaf plates for serving foods in temple gatherings, parties, and picnic, mainly because of its simplicity. Their raw material is easily available in local, easy to produce and affordable.

…and the best part is, to source the raw material, you don’t have to cut the trees. The farmers in the areca farms collect the areca sheaths and sends it to the aggregator(popularly known as leaf merchant).

Areca plate manufacturer then approaches these merchants to source the areca sheaths in bulk quantites. 

Areca palm trees

Areca palm tree (Scientific Name: Areca Catechu) grows only in the tropical climate areas. Farmers cultivate Areca palm tree mainly for the betel nuts(aka areca nut) that these trees produce.

India is the leading producer of areca nuts and has the most significant number of areca palm trees cultivated area. Countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam also produces areca nuts.

Betel nuts aka areca nuts

The chewing of areca nuts with the betel leaf is a tradition in India ad is believed to be in practice at least from 1000 ago. 

Some chew the combination of areca nuts, betel leaves(said to have medicinal benefits when used alone) along with Tobacco flakes. The harvested betelnut has fibrous husk in the outer layer.

After removing the fibrous covering, the nut is usually sun-dried for 45 -60 days. The nut becomes hard and turns dark brown after drying. People consume areca nut without drying too.

Supari manufacturers use areca nut for manufacturing supari.

Areca nut aka betel nuts in the Areca treeArecanut

Where palm trees are grown?

In India, the Arecanut palm tree grows only in high rainfall areas and requires a temperature level ranging from 14–36 degrees Celsius.

There are eight different varieties of Arecanut palm trees cultivated in India for the betel nuts. The variety has to be selected based on the geographical area of cultivation.

For Coastal areas, they recommend “Sreevardhana” variety. It grows tall and produces round areca nuts. 

According to the data from Dasd (Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development) areca palm tree has been total cultivated area was 5,18,710 hectare in year 2018.

The total yield for the same year was 901.78 tonnes. Karnataka has a large number of areca palm tree cultivation(2,79,460 hectares) among other Indian states. Also the state contributes a large percent of bet,el nuts to the Indian market.

Place where areca palm trees are grown

Raw Material – Areca palm sheaths.

An areca palm tree sheds five to six leaves in a year. These leaves were once considered an agro-waste and simply thrown away or burned by the areca farmers.

In the recent years the sheaths have gained significant importance and has gained  commercial value. After trimming off the leaf from the sheath, farmers collect the sheaths, bundles them and sends it to areca leaf plates manufacturer.

How palm leaf plates are manufactured?

The sheaths are soaked in the fresh water for 20 minutes. A soft brush is used to scrub away dust and the sand particles in the sheath. Then the sheaths are allowed to drain the water and taken for pressing with little amount of moisture in it.

Drying Areca leaf sheaths

Pressing plates in the Hydraulic press

The plate making unit consists of upper and bottom pressing heads. These pressing heads contains electric coil inside and this coil heats up the pressing heads. The temperature for the pressing heads are set based on the size of the plates.

Smaller the size of the plates, lower the temparature. For example, a 6-inch square plate pressing unit will be set to 60 and 50 degree celcius for the upper and bottom pressing heads respectively, while a 10″ square will need 80 and 70 degree celcius for upper and bottom heads. This will vary for different machine.

The areca sheath is put between these pressing heads and tightly pressed and thus the sheaths get the shape of the plate. The pressing head also contains cutting blades in the edges which cuts out the plate from the sheath.

The important fact to note here is, there is NO chemical or any synthetic binders used in the manufacturing process.

The contents of the plates are as it is what they were in the Areca sheath. So, it doesn’t release any of its constituents to the food, whether it is hot or cold.

Waste sheaths

After pressing the sheath into plates, the remain portions in the sheath are considered agro-waste waste. Units that produce vermicompost take these leftover areca palm sheaths and compost it into vermicompost.

Waste areca sheaths

Plates pressed, what’s next?

After pressing the areca sheath into a plate, factories employ labor to grade the palm leaf plates manually. After grading, the edges of the palm leaf dishes are sanded to give a smooth and beautiful finish, followed by scrubbing.

This process removes all the spots of dirt and sand dust from the plates. A small level of moisture is enough for the molds to grow on the plates.

So, before packing the plates, it has to be completely dry, free from moist and cured using ultraviolet rays and will prevent the molds and microbes from building up on the plate.

Then the Areca palm leaf plates are usually packed using shrink wrap and sent to the customers.

Few points to note:

37th GST council meeting held on 20th September, at Goa, decided to Nil the GST for Plates and cups made up of leaves/ flowers/bark. Before that GST rate for Areca plates was 5%. The council made the GST to nil, because the Govt wants to boost the consumption of eco-friendly products.

Palm leaf plates hs code: 46021990 

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21 Comments

  • By Hari Reply

    Areca leaf ram material call me 9840295658 language Tamil only

    • By R Megala Reply

      Sure I will get in touch with you.

  • By Rastafari Reply

    hello Naresh I am from a small island in the Caribbean but now resides in the us at present I am very interested in this technology and what ever information you can share to get started I would love to be involved.
    Thanks I await your response

    • By R Megala Reply

      Sure, will get in touch with you.

  • By Priscilla Japheth Enyia Reply

    How can some one stat its own areca plate company ,and how can i get the mold machines,how much can one invest in the business . what quantity of areca leaf can produce like 5000 plates

    • By R Megala Reply

      Yes, We can help you set up areca plate making unit. Do let us know where is the location you are planning to set up. Send your information to sales@crozborder.com

  • By Akbar Khwaja Reply

    Hi I am interested in areca products for the USA market. Please respond to my query on ******** or WhatsApp on ************

  • By Sushoma Nagaraj Reply

    i have learnt that there’s a certain amount of chemicals in the production of areca plates and also fumigation is done to avoid growing of molds. please shed some light on it

    thanks

    • By Rathi Mekala Reply

      Hi Sushoma,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Chemicals are not used in the Areca plate manufacturing. Not just us, no one adds any chemical in the palm plates production.

      Also, fumigation is not a part of the production process, and only the containers are fumigated to ensure it is free from pests.

      I will surely add details about the fumigation process in a separate article. Thanks once again for your suggestion.

      -Naresh

  • By sankar Reply

    Is areca leaf plates are excepted from GST? Thanks in Advance!

    • By Rathi Mekala Reply

      Yes Sankar, GST rates for Areca plates in NIL. Please refer the 37th GST council announcements where you can see that items/articles made out of made of flowers, leaves, and bark is NIL.

      Happy Trading!

  • By Madhu Reply

    Hi Kumar
    I would like to start this project can explain the details for the new establishment

    • By Rathi Mekala Reply

      Sure Madhu. We will get in touch with you.

  • By Kaleel Ahamed S Reply

    Hi Mr Madam,
    We are the Manufacturer of Areca Plates Bowls and Spoons. We are interested to supply our products World wide. Please contact us for any requirement.
    From Trichy Tamilnadu India.
    Mobile: 8056******

    • By Rathi Mekala Reply

      Sure Kaleel. Our sales team will get in touch with you shortly.

  • By Anurag Sharma Reply

    Hello sir/madam

    I am interested for manufacturing of bio degradable so request you to contact me for further information.

    Thanks

  • By LOKANAGOWDA Reply

    Hi Rathi,
    I am resident of Shivamogga karnataka . we grow areca nuts in our farm. I am interested to start this projects and our place is full of areca plantation. How you can you help to set up this establishment.

  • By Lakshmanaprabhu S Reply

    Hi,
    We are manufacturing Areca leaf round plates of size 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″. Our industry is located in coimbatore. We are interested to export our products. Kindly guide through the process. Expecting a favourable reply from you !

  • By Sheela Reply

    Hi Madam, v manufacture Areca leaf plate could u pls help us in getting the anti fungal stain remover for the plates and also need buy back for our products

  • By Ankit Mehra Reply

    Can we make something else other than plates, bowls, and spoons? Can we use areca to make tissues, garbage bags, tiffins (with a lid), etc?

    • By Rathi Mekala Reply

      Hi Ankit, as of now only plates, bowls and cutlery are made. And FYI, Areca food containers are also made from the areca sheaths.
      But I am not sure if we can make garbage bags or tissue.

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