A range of eco-friendly compostable food containers has won RMIT graduate Ruby Chan the top innovation prize at the National Sustainable Living Festival.
Single-use food containers, like those used at takeaway venues and food trucks, are among the most numerous and environmentally harmful products in everyday use.
Used containers are rarely recycled and often end up in landfill, where the crude oil-based plastic will sit for centuries before finally breaking down.
Moducware, designed by Master of Design Innovation and Technology graduate Ruby Chan, is a range of tableware and food containers built with plant-based polymers and repurposed agricultural fibres like corn husks.
The materials are naturally sourced and sustainably manufactured along their entire product lifecycle, and can be fully composted after use, leaving no lasting effects on the environment.
For her idea, Chan was named the winner of the RMIT Green Innovators Competition at the 2017 National Sustainable Living Festival, which supports designers, engineers, environmentalists, planners and others to develop their best “green” ideas into viable products.
Chan first developed the idea for Moducware while studying at RMIT, and was encouraged to commercialise it after attending a talk on entrepreneurship at the RMIT Design Hub.
She plans to patent the material and market it as a replacement for harmful takeaway food containers to environmentally responsible restaurants, food trucks and consumers.
“The emphasis was on sustainable manufacturing practices, food-contact safety and versatility,” Chan said in her submission to the competition.
“The resulting product is strong, suitable for wet foods, and can withstand dry heat.
“Moducware is compostable, and returns to the earth as bio-available nutrients.”
Chan won the $2000 first prize, while three runners-up each received $450.
All of the finalists received a place in RMIT Activator, a start-up incubator where participants are given access to coaching, resources and facilities to develop new ventures.
The judging panel included Ewan McEoin, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture at NGV; Dr Cathy Oke, Councillor at the City of Melbourne – Environment Portfolio and Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute; and Renzo Scacco, Director of RMIT Activator.
Story: Bradley Dixon