Six aspiring engineers from the Technological Institute of the Philippines (T.I.P.) Quezon City recently won third place in the 2023 Swiss Innovation Prize “Sustainability” category for pitching “edible cutleries” as a viable solution against plastic pollution.
Inspired by eco-friendly materials already being produced in other countries, the students collectively known as “Edgetec” submitted a research paper, exploring the possibility of turning flour into consumable utensils that could potentially replace flatware made of single-use plastics.
“We don’t have the discipline to dispose and segregate our plastic products properly. The Philippines doesn’t [even] have a strong and concrete Waste Management Plan. All these things need to be addressed because it is putting our future generations in danger.”
Team leader Stanley del Rosario, a fourth year civil engineering major, said they focused on trying to reduce plastic waste upon learning of its terrible impact on the environment. The pollution is linked to a number of diseases and deaths of humans and marine biodiversity.
“With a simple product like ‘edible cutleries,’ we believe it can be a sustainable solution to lessen our need for single-use plastics… It won’t cause a problem to the community, especially for marine animals, because even if they ingest it, it is safe,” Del Rosario explained.
Other students who worked on the project include Elyza Marielle Camiguing and Amiel Salvania (3rd Year, Electronics Engineering), Emmanuelle Dave Santos and Faron Jabez Nonan (2nd Year, Computer Engineering), and John Paul Fernandez (4th Year, Civil Engineering).
The paper titled “Edible Cutleries with Biodegradable Packaging as an Alternative to Single-Used Plastics” was part of their coursework for their Tech 101 Engineering and Entrepreneurship class under Assistant Professor James Paul Menina from the College of Business Education.
Del Rosario said one of their goals in pursuing the topic is to raise awareness on the harmful effects of plastic pollution. Citing data from Plastic Bank, the team noted that the Philippines is the leading contributor of plastics in the ocean despite not being its biggest producer.
“We don’t have the discipline to dispose and segregate our plastic products properly. The Philippines doesn’t [even] have a strong and concrete Waste Management Plan. All these things need to be addressed because it is putting our future generations in danger,” he added.
The team worked on the project for two months and submitted it for competition at the 2023 Swiss Innovation Prize last September. It was adjudged Top 3 in the “Sustainability” category by a panel of six judges out of 150 entries from students and professionals across the country.
The Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines launched and organized the competition in partnership with the Swiss Cultural Fund and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce to support “new ideas that have the potential to drive economic growth and improve society.”
Del Rosario and Camiguing represented T.I.P. Quezon City during the final stages of the pitching competition held last November 22-24, 2023. They accepted a trophy and P30,000 cash prize during the awards ceremony held on the last day at the Makati Diamond Residences.
As finalists, both students were also rewarded with site visits to various participating Swiss companies and non-profit organizations, as well as the official residence of the Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Nicolas Brühl in Makati City, during the three-day activity.