Uuvipak
Replace single-use plastic with edible and 100% biodegradable products from underutilised clean food waste.

Are you eligible for Breaking Barriers Category:

SUMMARY

We’re solving two global challenges simultaneously.  Single-use plastics is a very well-known issue but did you know we also have a food waste challenge right here in Queensland? To solve this, we are creating products from clean organic food waste which replaces single-use packaging in everything, from food containers to product packaging.

We narrowed our initial market to food retailers that offer take-away. Our first products are disposable and edible plates, bowls and cutlery, which biodegrade naturally.  Other “bio” products need industrial processes to actually bio-degrade...

Our patented technology involves a process to clean and convert organic food waste into raw materials which are then compressed moulded  into any desired shape.

BENEFIT – A description of the benefit of your work to Queensland (max 500 words)

Uuvipak products are designed to eradicate single use plastic pollution and upcycle Queensland’s food waste. We create 100% biodegradable, home compostable materials from clean organic food waste which can be used in a wide variety of applications. 

Our materials do not use any chemical additives or modified binding materials: they are edible and, after use, naturally biodegrade within 2-3 weeks in nature or any compost or garbage bin. When our products reach waterways or lakes, they begin to biodegrade as they make contact with water. 

Our manufacturing will be done here in Queensland and will employ Queenslanders. We can see a future with a circular system which takes our upcycled underutilised clean food waste > converts to new materials > lessens plastic contamination and pollution > reduces methane emissions > and once disposed in landfills or composts bins will naturally biodegrade!

Our mission is to replace 2 billion pieces of single-use plastics by 2025. We believe that now is the right time to scale Uuvipak as we are able to use our technology to support these global agreements and help alleviate the challenges introduced by plastic pollution.

ROLE MODEL – Why do you think you are a good role model for women and girls aspiring to work in STEM? (max 500 words)

I come from a small town in India and opportunities there can feel limited. I have persevered against all odds to come to where I am today. If you had asked me 10 years ago if what I have today can realistically be achieved, I might have just laughed and shrugged off the thought. While growing up, I never had a role model or any working women around me who could inspire me. 

One of my turning points was being selected as  a Junior Research Fellow at one of the top research institutes of India, TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research). Here, I researched under Dr Ankona Datta. Dr Datta completed her PhD research at Princeton University and her post-doctoral research at UC Berkeley, USA. She was the first working woman I had ever interacted with and she inspired me in countless ways. She gave me the strength to pursue a career in science. 

I co-founded Uuvipak to bring cutting-edge research to save our planet. I believe this is another bold aspiration for future girls to have visibility of.  Being in STEM was challenging however starting your own business is another level completely. It takes grit, self-belief and courage. I am living proof that you can achieve amazing things in life, whatever your background is. I show this because I work hard, persevere and have determination. There may be someone out there who thinks they are not capable  because they come from a poor background. I hope my story will change theirs!

ENGAGEMENT – Describe any STEM promotion or engagement activities that you have undertaken, including both scientific and non-scientific audiences, particularly with women and girls (maximum 500 words)

As a third-world country, India (my home country) faces many real issues such as lack of access to education for women and girls, and women in leadership roles. Only 13 percent of Indian women have a college degree and the share of female CEOs stood at 4.7% in 2021.

When I was in India, I taught free Mathematics classes for women and girls who worked in the kitchen canteen at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).  These women and girls could not afford to attend school and pay for living expenses. 

Additionally, for three years, I promoted the spirit of science among the general public. I was part of the TIFR Science Popularisation and Public Outreach Committee, which develops programs to:
Encourage students to pursue careers in the basic sciences.

Offer opportunities for educators to engage in continuing education and research to improve their professional skills.

Showcase the significance of exciting new scientific and technological developments.
Inform the students about the ongoing research at TIFR.

Further, I raised money from my college and institute to donate to orphanages for girls to help them with their education by getting things like school shoes and computers.

As someone who is not from a very privileged background, I try to take part and initiate any event that may assist those women who are in real need.

VIDEO