* Their company, Enavra, sells environment-friendly cutlery made from avocado seeds
Two former students of Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university, have launched an initiative to discourage the use of plastic cutlery in Qatar.
Abdullah Shaat and Saoud al-Emadi, who graduated from Tamuq in 2019, have started a company called Enavra – meaning "from earth to earth" - selling environment-friendly cutlery made from the seeds of avocado.
The products, which aim to discourage the use of plastic cutlery in Qatar, are available on QF’s EC Marketplace platform.
Speaking about how the idea evolved, Shaat said: “We always believed that plastic cutlery should not be used in restaurants and cafes. So last year, we decided it was necessary to find biodegradable alternatives that would have a minimal impact on the environment.”
“We began by investigating alternatives available in the local and global market. We tried and tested several samples over a period of months, eventually finding the perfect biodegradable product, which uses avocado seeds as the base,” he continued.
The duo faced a number of challenges at the start of their venture, especially the launch of Enavra coinciding with the start of Covid-19 in the country and globally. According to al-Emadi, shipping costs were high for the products as they had to be brought in from North America.
They also faced several other issues, as al-Emadi noted: “We found it very difficult to convince business owners to adopt an environment-friendly option, especially when plastic disposables are so easily available and are very cheap."
“We analysed shipping methods and tried to reduce costs where possible. We have succeeded in signing contracts with many companies in Qatar. And, in the long term, we aim to manufacture the products in Qatar, which will help reduce prices further and provide more options,” he added.
Al-Emadi highlighted how cutlery made from avocado seeds is an ideal alternative as it has the same texture as plastic, but breaks down within a year.
At the moment, the team is importing spoons, forks and knives, but plans to provide more options such as cup covers, plates and food containers in the future.
“Many cafes and restaurants have already started using the products and it is only a matter of time until we completely replace plastic,” said Shaat.
Currently, 11 vendors are using the plastic alternatives sold by Enavra. “We believe that every business should take part in keeping our planet green and sustainable. We are all responsible,” said Maryam Jaber, a café owner.
“We are doing our best to go green and use environment-friendly materials. The Enavra team has been a great supplier, we love their products – we are currently using their cutlery and straws. The quality is very high and our customers are happy,” added Jaber.