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Leaf cups and plates are traditionally made by hand in Indian villages. These are commonly used for serving food at marriages, religious and social functions. The laborious craft can now be converted into a machine operation to make these containers in elegant shapes and sizes. Such cups and plates are made out of plant leaves of beautia, arecanut sheath, banana etc. These have good dimensional stability and are inexpensive, hygienic and biodegradable.
The cups and plates are in large demand by hawkers, fast food restaurants, star-hotels, mass feeding and for prasadam in religious institutions.
The leaf cup machine is a simple pedal operated machine, manually operated with minimum power consumption. It requires 300 watts of electric power. It can also work without power by kerosene oil blow lamp. The leaves are washed and dried to retain their pliability and kept in a polythene bag to avoid drying before use. The leaves are placed on the lower die plate, the pedal is pressed down and released after a few seconds. All the operation like folding, trimming, pressing into shape and drying are done in a single operation by pressing the pedal lever. The leaf cup, subjected to heating at 150° C for 10 seconds gets it sterilized.
This machine helps to prepare stronger, elegant and uniform cups and plates of different sizes from leaves and paper at a rate much faster than the conventional method of leaf-cup making. In case of flimsy leaves, another layer of leaf, paper or polythene may be used for reinforcement, the method is simple. No adhesives are needed.