A solution that goes back to “Meritous Earth”

It’s a fact. Plastic straws are harmful to the environment, and awareness over the harm they cause has been described as a “lightbulb moment” for the move away from single-use plastics. Terra Merita has an alternative: WASA Eco Straws which are made from rice and tapioca starch.

Terra Merita aims to “be more proactive about making sustainable, long term changes for helping our environment and building a more resilient economy.”

Speaking at the Tourism Fiji  second sustainability webinar early July about the need to use biodegradable products and sustainable practices, particularly in the tourism industry, a company represented noted: “In the tourism industry, tourists generate seven times more plastic waste per person a day than one Fijian resident.”

“I mean, if you think about this, it is quite appalling, and 13% of tourism waste is plastic, so that’s quite a staggering figure and potentially a wake-up call.”

According to a blog written in June by United Nations Development Programme resident representative in the Pacific Office, Dawn Del Rio, while tourism in Fiji is currently the main revenue earner, contributing about 40% to the country’s GDP and employing 100,000 locals, the shocking reality is that this industry generates approximately 140,000 tonnes of solid waste.

While people are aware of the plastic problem, few know about the harmful effects of paper straws.

According to Terra Merita, paper straws can have recycling challenges, and because of this, they either end up in the ocean or in landfills.

“People don’t realise that if it (paper straws) is not composted or recycled under proper conditions, where it needs a certain temperature and certain types of organisms to break down, and if it ends up in a landfill or amongst plastic or stuff that doesn’t break down, then the paper straw is as bad as plastic.”

“Because landfills, as most of us don’t really know, are designed to not degrade, there is absolutely no biodegradation that happens in a landfill.”

As an organisation that’s Latin name means “meritorious earth” or “praiseworthy earth”, Terra Merita Fiji believes “l that we all come from the earth, and in some way, shape, or form, we go back to it.” 

Its WASA Eco Straws are an alternative to both plastic, and paper.

“These straws are made up of broken rice, so they are basically waste of fragments from the process of harvesting, drying, milling, and transportation. Any little bits of rice grains that are left over are broken rice, so the base is broken rice and tapioca starch, which is made out of cassava and 100% edible food colour,” the company said.

It adds: “These straws are made out of completely natural materials, they are environmentally safe and ocean safe, so once you are done using them, you can put them into a compost bin, plant beds, fish feed, and we were told that even frogs like to eat them.”

The Sofitel Fiji Resort, Sheraton Fiji, DoubleTree Resort, Raffe Hotels and Resorts and the Ahura Resorts are amongst the tourism properties using the products.

Terra Merita  is looking to extend its range of sustainable and biodegradable products.