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 realizing the devastating effects of plastic products and day-by-day becoming more environmentally conscious.

People thinking has changed in consumption. They want to keep up our earth free from plastic pollutants. So, they want to make a more eco-friendly choice over unsustainable options. Ecofriendly disposable plates are easy to handle and dispose of after use.

Though there are many eco-friendly products, this article will focus more 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

Most of the people prefer areca palm leaf plates for serving foods in temple gatherings, parties, and picnicns, mainly because of its simplicity. They are easy to produce by the manufacturer and easily affordable for consumers, compared to the other types of eco-friendly disposable plates. And the best part is that, for raw materials, you don’t have to cut the trees. Palm leaf products manufacturers source the areca sheaths in bulk quantities from the farmers.

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

Areca palm sheaths

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

But now the sheaths have gained significant importance in the areca leaf plates business. After trimming the leaf from the sheath, the sheath gets into areca leaf plates manufacturing. The leaf goes to the composting. You can get upto 3000 areca sheaths from one acre of areca palm tree.

Farmers collect the sheaths, bundles them and sends it to areca leaf plates manufactures near by. The primary step in the manufacturing unit is to assort the sheaths and clean them thoroughly.

The sheaths are soaked in the fresh water. A soft brush is used to scrub the dust and the sand particles. Then the sheaths are allowed to drain the water and dried to remove the moisture.

Drying Areca leaf sheaths

Pressing plates in the Hydraulic press

The sheath must have little bit of moisture while pressing. The pressing head, which holds the dye in the hydraulic press will be more than 80 degree celsius. This heat press is what gives the plate its shape and instantly dries the plate. This is the reason, you feel hot near the machines.

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. Until then 5% GST was charged for areca leaf plates. So, this will definitely boost the consumption and benefits the customers. 

Palm leaf plates hs code: 46021990 

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8 Comments

  • By Hari Reply

    Areca leaf ram material call me 9840295658 language Tamil only

    • By Naresh Kumar 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 Naresh Kumar 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 Naresh Kumar 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 [email protected]

  • By Akbar Khwaja Reply

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

    • By Naresh Kumar Reply

      Sure, I will get in touch with you.

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