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Texas A&M at Qatar graduates promote sustainability with a biodegradable cutlery start-up

Published Oct 25, 2023

Enavra, a biodegradable cutlery company founded by two Texas A&M at Qatar graduates, continues to promote sustainability and eco-friendly practices in Qatar and the region.

Founders Abdullah Shaat and Saoud Al Emadi said they are committed to reducing the consumption of single-use plastics by offering innovative cutlery made from bioplastics. Enavra’s materials are engineered for eco-friendly decomposition, leaving no lasting ecological footprint.

Enavra achieved a significant milestone during the International Horticultural Expo 2023 in Doha, where they became the official supplier for the six-month event, furthering their mission to combat plastic waste. Additionally, the company forged a partnership with Talabat, the region's premier food delivery platform.

Shaat and Al Emadi's ingenious answer to combat the increasing issue of single-use plastics was surprisingly simple: fruit seeds. These seemingly unremarkable leftovers from snacks and meals turned out to have significant potential due to their chemical makeup resembling that of plastic.

Through a specialized process, these fruit seeds are altered to exhibit plastic-like properties while remaining entirely biodegradable. Although the initial processing of these seeds occurs outside of Qatar, all other stages — including design, molding and packaging — are carried out within the country.

Al Emadi said, "We soon realized that we could use fruit seeds to create eco-friendly and biodegradable cutlery. We experimented and refined the process until we could convert these discarded seeds into versatile bioplastic products. Enavra would manufacture these products in Qatar, thus contributing to sustainability in the region."

In the early days, the duo encountered a significant challenge in sourcing food waste and convincing consumers to opt for a slightly more expensive alternative to conventional plastic. Eventually, they realized that establishing their manufacturing unit was the best solution. They secured manufacturing rights after being incubated by the Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC). In November 2022, the company celebrated a significant milestone by successfully producing its first batch of biodegradable products.

During their time as students at Texas A&M at Qatar, both Shaat and Al Emadi were actively engaged in multiple student organizations, conducted research and excelled academically. Shaat completed his bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering in 2019 and also earned a master's degree in chemical engineering from Texas A&M at Qatar. Al Emadi graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 2019.

Shaat emphasized the role of their education at Texas A&M at Qatar in enhancing their critical thinking and innovation skills.

"We addressed an environmental challenge with a groundbreaking solution that not only reduces plastic waste but also establishes a sustainable cycle from discarded materials to valuable products,” Shaat said. “Our journey with Enavra embodies the Aggie Spirit of going the extra mile."

For the young entrepreneurs, it was imperative to convey that the benefits of their biodegradable alternatives justified their cost in terms of quality, experience and, most importantly, the positive impact on the environment.

They said that Qatar's commitment to environmental protection has been a driving force behind their success, and they acknowledged the crucial support they received from the community and the government, which has played a pivotal role in their growth.

"It has always been a dream of ours to make a difference by contributing to the community in Qatar through creating a unique line of products that align with Qatar's long-term sustainability goals," Shaat said.