Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has been granted a significant patent by the Government of India, recognizing their groundbreaking work on the development and manufacturing of a ‘reusable straw.’ This environmentally friendly innovation is crafted from an endemic bamboo species, Schizostachyum andamanicum, indigenous to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
This particular bamboo variety was first identified on the islands approximately three decades ago, and its newfound economic potential has received a substantial boost through the patent approval for the production of reusable straws.
Dr. Lal Ji Singh, the regional head and esteemed scientist at BSI’s Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre in Port Blair, emphasized the unique characteristics of this bamboo species. Its distinguishing features include a slender, hollow culm (stem) with elongated internodes, making it an ideal candidate for the development of sustainable straws.
Dr. Singh, the driving force behind this eco-friendly invention, expressed, “This innovative solution offers a novel approach to replace plastic straws with an organic alternative. It holds the promise of becoming a future technology that could enhance the economic prospects of local farmers and bamboo cultivators on the islands, provided they engage in commercial cultivation of this endemic bamboo species.”
The groundwork for the bamboo straw initiative commenced in 2011 at the Dhanikhari Experimental Garden-cum-Arboretum, situated within the BSI Regional Centre. Subsequently, a patent application was submitted in 2018, culminating in the official patent grant in 2023. Dr. Singh’s research revealed a striking resemblance in the morpho-anatomical structure of culm internodes of the indigenous bamboo to modern synthetic drinking straws, serving as the impetus behind this pioneering invention
However, it is worth noting that large-scale production of these bamboo straws hinges upon the commercial cultivation of the bamboo species, which is presently found only in select forested areas of the Andaman Islands.
A.A. Mao, the Director of BSI, lauded the organization’s achievement in securing the patent for this reusable straw. He acknowledged that bamboo straws have already made inroads in India, with credit attributed to BSI for its innovative strides in this domain.