IncrEDIBLE Eat’s Edible Spoons

overall rating:

1

planets

Alyssa Schaer
12/17/2021
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In the United States, an estimated 40 billion individual plastic utensils are thrown away each year. As many of us know, single-use plastic waste is a problem because plastic takes hundreds to thousands of years to break down, and it also leaches toxic pollutants into the earth and ocean. However, a new company thinks it has an answer to our single-use plastic waste problem.

IncrEDIBLE Eats is an innovative U.S company that figured out how to make single-use spoons and other cutlery edible. Instead of throwing away your spoon, why not eat it instead? The company’s mission is to remove plastic waste from the ocean by switching from plastic to edible spoon options. This is an important mission considering the fact that if we do not stop consuming plastic, then by 2050, there will be more plastic waste in the ocean than fish (by weight). Although the company launched in 2019, it has already been making waves (no pun intended) in the media. IncrEDIBLE Eats is featured in 2021’s season of ‘Shark Tank’, a reality show where entrepreneurs present their business to a panel of investors. IncrEDIBLE Eat’s CEO, Dinesh Tadepalli, accepted an offer of $500,000 for 15 percent of the company. He also saw a revenue bump of 50,000 dollars two days after the company’s ‘Shark Tank’ debut. The company sells a box of 20 edible spoons for $11.99 - or small businesses also have the option of buying spoons at wholesale for a cheaper price. Also, each spoon comes individually wrapped in a recyclable paper sleeve and will hold its shape for 30 minutes in ice cream or a hot soup. People are intrigued by IncrEDIBLE Eat’s tasty solution to single-use plastic waste, but is the company’s product and business model environmentally sustainable, or just another example of greenwashing?

Although I will be reviewing IncrEDIBLE Eat’s edible spoon, it is also important to note that in the future the company has plans to release other edible utensils, like chopsticks, straws, and sporks, on their website. 

What it's made of:

1

The edible spoon comes in two main 100% natural subtle flavors, savory and sweet. The savory flavor is for things like pasta and soup, while the sweet flavor can be used for ice cream. Although the flavors change, the main ingredients in each spoon remain the same, wheat, oat, corn, chickpea, and brown rice. Corn and rice are the least sustainably-grown crops from the list of ingredients. Corn is raised in monocultures that depletes nitrogen and other nutrients from the soil and require lots of water to grow. Rice production uses a large area of land and water.

According to IncrEDIBLE Eat’s website, their spoons are vegan, dairy-free, and non-GMO. This means that the product is 100% plant-based and the plant ingredients are not genetically altered. The non-GMO part of that statement is key because genetically modified plants can cause environmental harm by increasing the use of toxic herbicides and decreasing biodiversity. Although IncrEDIBLE Eat’s states that their spoons do not use GMOs, the company is currently not certified organic. To be certified “organic” by the USDA, farmers do not genetically alter their crops or use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides to grow their crops. Additionally, organic farming methods enhance soil and water quality, reduce pollution and promote a self-sustaining cycle. Since IncrEDIBLE Eat does not have this certification, consumers are not 100% certain that the company is telling the truth about its non-GMO ingredients or whether it uses organic farming methods. 

How it's made:

1.5

The edible spoon is made from raw plants and natural flavors, but how does the raw material turn into the final product? The company’s website does not provide consumers with this information on their website. All I could find about the production process is that the spoons are assembled in a factory located in Vadodara, India. How do the raw materials get to the assembling factory? Are they grown in India or offshore? If the raw materials are grown offshore, then the company increases its shipping distance to the assembling factory, thus increasing its greenhouse gases emissions. Also, is turning the raw materials into a spoon an energy-intensive process? What amount of CO2 emissions does the company produce in the creation of one edible spoon? Overall, IncrEDIBLE Eats claims to be carbon and plastic “negative” because they offset all of their plastic and energy costs by 200%.

Although IncrEDIBLE Eat’s website does not explain how their spoons are manufactured, it does go into detail about its sustainable packaging. Their packaging is made from paper stock boxes that are Rainforest Alliance Certified [RAC] and Forest Stewardship Coucil [FSC] certified. A RAC logo ensures that the pulp supplied for the paper did not damage the Amazon Rainforest. FSC-Certified paper ensured that no ancient and endangered ecosystems or forests were logged to create the paper. Also, inside each box, the spoons are individually wrapped in recyclable wrappers. Their wrappers are made of paper and a thin (2-micron) layer of plastic to ensure a sufficient moisture barrier that prevent the spoons from breaking down or perishing in transit. Even though the paper wrappers are coated in thin layer of plastic, they can still biodegrade or be safely recycled in paper recycling. Also, IncrEDIBLE Eats is actively searching for other wrapper coating options, such as seaweed and alternative bioplastics to reduce their impact.  

Who makes it:

0.5

IncrEDIBLE Eat’s website does not provide Consumers with information about who actually makes the edible spoon. I know who designed the edible spoon prototype - Kruvil Patel - but who are the workers mass producing and distributing the edible spoon? Or the farmers growing the raw materials? IncrEDIBLE Eats, it is important that you are transparent about who makes your product because transparency ensures you can be held accountable for your worker’s rights and whether they are being protected under fair labor laws. IncrEDIBLE Eats should publish its supply chain, and demonstrate to consumers how their company makes sure that the producers, manufacturers, and distributors that they partner with have ethical labor laws that are enforced regularly.