Edible cups inventor who impressed world at Stockholm climate meeting

Stockholm, climate change,Sheryl Mboya, edible cups

Sheryl Mboya, 22-year-old Kenyan who has created edible cups  that caught the attention of President Uhuru Kenyatta in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Photo credit: POOL

What you need to know:

  • GreenX Telemechanics has developed the final prototype — a look alike and work alike as the original concept — and is now working towards mass production of the product.

 A 22-year-old Kenyan who has created edible cups was the centre of attention in Stockholm, Sweden early this month as the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations conference on human environment.

Sheryl Mboya, who hails from Nairobi County, says she came up with the innovation as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics.

Speaking to Healthy Nation in an exclusive interview, the Mount Kenya University Law student, who is the inventor and patent holder of the product , explained her innovation. “Snackuit is made using edible products. As such, the end product is edible and can be consumed by all living organisms (human beings, plants, land and marine animals). It is free from allergens, cholesterol and is also sugar-free.”

sherly mboya, edible cups, plastic pollution

The edible cups.

Photo credit: POOL

“This innovation is under development by GreenX Telemechanics Limited, a technology and innovation developer whose core objective is to come up with innovative solutions that not only address challenges mankind face but also contribute to climate action.”

It is under intellectual property (patent) protection both nationally through the Kenya Industrial Property Institute and globally through the World Intellectual Property Organisation , she notes.

GreenX Telemechanics has developed the final prototype — a look alike and work alike as the original concept — and is now working towards mass production of the product.

“Since we are just wrapping up the prototype stage upon which we will begin the production stage,  GreenX through the assistance of State Department for Youth Affairs, Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli is currently working on the necessary certifications such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards, food hygiene certificate, food handling medical certificate and any other certifications required.

“This also involves laboratory testing, which will be conducted by Nas Servair, an operator of an on-site airport catering facility.”

The environmentalist and climate change enthusiast,who also advocates for the rights of children and women, says plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats facing our planet.

“As such, it forms one of the greatest ills within the triple planetary crisis. The threefold crisis includes climate change, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss. Unfortunately, these elements within the triple planetary crisis (climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution) are intertwined. As such, by addressing plastic pollution, we are in turn addressing the other two elements: climate crisis and biodiversity loss,” said Sheryl.

To address the issue of plastic pollution, she is of the view that it is important we have measures that tackle the plastic crisis as well as an alternative to halt the circulation of plastics within the global market. “Snackuit addresses the latter solution by offering a more sustainable and innovative alternative to plastic consumption and consequently plastic pollution”

Her target market includes everyone and every industry that consumes plastics.

“This is not limited to individual consumption of plastics. As such, we are honoured to work with Kenya Airways through the Fahari Innovation Hub to oversee their change from plastic consumption within their business’ operations to a more sustainable alternative that will in turn boost not only their environment sustainability programme but also their overall business sustainability,” she points out.

“I shared the innovation with Kenya Airways and they got interested  in adopting it during inflight meals. Once adopted,  KQ will be the first airline globally to completely face out plastic products used during in-flight meal services,”  says Sheryl .

While addressing a delegation of Kenyan youth climate envoys to Stockholm on June 3, President Uhuru Kenyatta spotted Sheryl.

“The President asked whether the cups can hold hot and cold liquids, if they can be eaten apart from seeking to know the sustainability feature and whether the Ministry of Environment was assisting me,” recalls  Sherly.

Alphonce Muia, the Kenya Youth  Climate Envoys lead tells Healthy Nation: “Stockholm+50 was a moment for the youth to showcase unprecedented leadership in fighting for a sustainable and healthy environment through their robust actions... I was thrilled that our own Sheryl Mboya, whose  project is  geared towards phasing out plastics packaging and replacing them with edible kelp-based packaging materials, attracted the attention of many leaders both in private sector and government as her innovation doesn’t use any toxic chemicals and the formula for each packaging is tailored to its final use.

Dr Ayub Macharia, director environmental education and awareness unit in the Ministry of Environment, says:  “By introducing this product into the market, we are providing the public with an alternative that is more sustainable and has the capacity to beat plastic pollution on land and in oceans and in turn address the climate crisis we are facing.”

Kenya grabbed headlines in 2017 when it banned single-use plastic bags. This was preceded by the country’s decision to sign the Clean Seas initiative, making it one of the first African nations to commit to limiting plastic in its waterways. As of June 2020, visitors to Kenya’s national parks, beaches, forests and conservation areas were no longer able to carry plastic water bottles, cups, disposable plates, cutlery, or straws into protected areas.

“It’s not just its fight against plastic that makes Kenya a green pioneer: the country was also an early adopter of the Green University Initiative,” Juliette Biao, the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Director for Africa then said while lauding the country for banning plastic bottles, cups and cutlery.

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