For Leaf Republic, a German company based in Munich, it all started out with a vision: outdoor tableware, as renewable and biodegradable as a leaf falling from a tree. The company’s dream was to create completely sustainable and biodegradable items in response to plastic waste pollution caused by packaging. After years of prototyping, they came up with a disposable material fabricated entirely out of leaves.
The project is currently undergoing a funding campaign: their goal is to raise 50,000 Euros to make these eco-designs available for us all to enjoy.
Aside from funding, Leaf Republic explains that the main goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for sustainable packaging and to shift the dependency on oil-based plastics in our daily life. “We want to protect our environment and use its limited resources in a different way”, they explain.
‘We are lucky to have healthy, intact forest just around the corner of our office. But sadly, reality looks different.’ – Leaf Republic says. Every 2 seconds, woods of the size of a soccer field are cut down. These amounts sum up to 13 million hectares of wood every year, which are deforested for producing pulp out of them. It actually equates the size of England! On the other hand, we are facing ever-growing mountains of garbage: more than 1 billion tons per year, equaling the size of the Mount Everest.
‘We are drowning in garbage of paper and plastic, and we are over-using our resources. That’s the main reason why we decided to try and change this.’ – they add. ‘We spend only a brief moment on this world. Everything we own is only temporary. What really counts is what we create, our actions and our decisions. They last forever.’
What is their approach?
They focus on food packaging and one-way dishes. Their claim: outdoor tableware has to be fully renewable and fully biodegradable. After years of designing, prototyping and testing, they’ve succeeded.
The team has now developed a whole series of packaging and tableware using pressing machines to sandwich a middle layer of leaf paper in between two layers, which are composed of leaves stitched together with palm leaf fibers. No plastics, adhesives, chemicals or additives of any kind are added to the product. The materials are pressed together in a mold and the outcome is a design that, despite its natural construction, is both waterproof and durable.
The leaves used in the designs are sourced from a wild creeper plant collected by villagers in Asia and South America.
Once used, the material takes only 28 days to decompose and return back to nature, a massive improvement from toxic packaging such as a plastic bottles, which take 450 years to completely degrade. Alternatively, the eco-ware can be stored for reuse if they were originally used to serve dry foods and snacks.
Leaf Republic has a small-scale manufacturing facility in Germany but they are looking to scale up production with crowd funding. They hope to begin mass distribution of their tableware and packaging.
In today’s world, people rely heavily on plastic packaging. ’Packaging is a part of our daily lives,’ says Leaf Republic, ‘there has always been packaging and there always will be.’ The food industry in particular is responsible for a high percentage of plastic packaging production. Most of it goes directly to waste. Seeing how we cannot avoid it, the question then becomes: how can we make this need manageable and reduce its negative impact on our environment?
Leaf Republic designed an answer. They are determined to make a stance and engineer change through original thinking.
‘Revolutions are not started by a market leader, but by lateral thinkers following a clear vision’, they explain, ‘not to work within the system and to accept the standards as given, but to change the system and to set new standards’. They see themselves as setting these new parameters.
Their plates get you ready to enjoy a picnic outdoors with the knowledge that you are doing little harm to the natural environment. Leaf Republic’s unconventional design is sustainable, fair, compostable and very green (literally).
Click on the link below to watch the video of the production process: