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Move over, cardboard pizza boxes. It looks like we now have a more eco-friendly contender. The BrickOven Café based in the Philippine province of Laguna is now serving its pizzas in handwoven reusable boxes made using pandan leaves. Not only are pandan leaves regionally abundant and completely natural, this biodegradable and reusable pizza box alternative is also bringing the local weaving industry an extra source of income amidst the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Laguna-based pizzeria The BrickOven Café is gaining national recognition for its creative use of locally-made, reusable tampipi boxes for takeaway and delivery orders of their wood-fired pizzas. Each box is crafted by hand out of dried pandan leaves by local weavers based in the province. After devouring the pizza, diners can reuse the box at the restaurant and receive a discount, or choose to repurpose the beautiful tampipi at home for storage.
Pandan leaves are cultivated across all parts of the Philippines and the wider Southeast Asia region, making them an abundant resource that can be used to create eco-friendly containers.
“The idea of using tampipi for our pizzas came when we were running out of carton boxes, and we needed to go to Manila to get supplies. Getting supplies to Manila will incur additional expenses and consume time, so we thought that we should find boxes near our area,” Dennise Jocel E. Porca, owner of the restaurant, told Manila lifestyle magazine Spot.ph.
Currently, The BrickOven Café offers both round and square shapes for their pizza boxes, which come in varied sizes from 10 to 30 inches in diameter. Other dishes can also be delivered or ordered for take-away in the restaurant’s signature tampipi. While its menu isn’t particularly vegan-friendly, there are several vegetarian options including margherita, veggies and dips, fries and garlic bread.
Porca also shared with the local publication that prior to using tampipi, the restaurant experimented with buli, a natural rope made from palm tree, to tie the pizza boxes together in order to minimise plastic waste and make use of natural, locally abundant materials.
At a time when the local communities are also experiencing economic hardship due to the coronavirus crisis, using handwoven pandan boxes also creates an added revenue stream for grassroots weavers.
In a Facebook post, the restaurant shared that one of their suppliers, a family based in Cavinti, Laguna, the demand for their handwoven tampipi has provided much-needed income during the pandemic.
“We were already inspired with how they work and especially how they unite to produce masterpieces,” the pizzeria wrote. “According to them, we are just right in time for their family in this pandemic.”
It’s not the first time that natural materials have been used creatively to reduce single-use plastic waste. One supermarket in Chiang Mai, Thailand, began using banana leaves to package its fresh fruit and vegetables last year, ditching unnecessary plastic produce bags and cling wrap.
All images courtesy of The BrickOven Café Facebook.