Sea grapes (scientific name coccoloba uvifera) are common in Phu Yen and central localities. Recognising their potential, Tuyen, who graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport, came up with the idea to use sea grape leaves to make dishes to replace single-use plates made from plastic and foam.
Tuyen, who also started a project to make cups, dishes and spoons from areca palm tree leaves in Quang Ngai province in 2020, buys the leaves for 200 VND a piece.
Tuyen said that in early 2021, he took sea grape leaves to Quang Ngai for trial production and found that it took only 30 seconds to make a good plate from the leaves in triangle or heart shapes. Each plate, which sell for 2,000 VND (0.086 USD), can be used 10 times before being discarded. They are convenient for restaurants and tourism activities, replacing those made from materials that are harmful to the environment.
Tuyen said 7,000 plates made of sea grape leaves have been exported to Poland, and the product has been introduced to the Singaporean market.
“I am trying to make cups and square plates with a size of 12-15cm, or graft two leaves to make larger products with better durability,” said Tuyen.
Thanks to his creative product, Tuyen won first prize in a plastic waste reduction innovation contest organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Vietnam in the south central province.
Nguyen Duc Thang, head of the Sub-Department of Rural Development under the Phu Yen Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that plates made from sea grape leaves are new and friendly to the environment.
Sea grape trees grow widely in Phu Yen. This will prompt the expansion of sea grape tree planting, contributing to preventing erosion and promoting tourism in the locality, said Thang.