Management likely to plump for food grade paper boxes

The white polythene covers used for carrying the famous laddus prepared by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) will soon become a thing of the past, with the management contemplating replacing them with food grade paper boxes.

While Tirupati city has successfully implemented a ban on single use covers, plates and cups made of plastic, the hill town of Tirumala is taking baby steps towards becoming part of the larger framework.

After mulling various options, including introduction of biodegradable plastic covers and cloth/jute bags, the TTD is most likely to settle for paper boxes, similar to those used in bakeries and sweet shops.

On coming to know that such boxes are in use at Srisailam Devasthanam, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal chose to replicate the idea at Tirumala first, followed by Tiruchanur and other local temples.

Three sizes

The boxes are available in three sizes so that any number of laddus purchased by a devotee can be given away in a combination of boxes. The likely disadvantage in packing laddus in boxes is that they get bulkier than earlier, making it highly unwieldy to be carried by a person, forcing him/her to buy a bigger bag to hold the boxes. While the plastic carry covers are charged, it is not however immediately known if the pilgrims will have to shell out money for the boxes.

“We are taking pilgrim feedback on the boxes, but whether to charge the pilgrims has not yet been decided,” Mr. Singhal told
The Hindu
.

Quality matters

It was initially feared that the excessive absorption of ghee by paper boxes would impact the quality of the laddu, which was subsequently proved wrong. The absorption of ghee was less than expected, thanks to the lesser surface area of contact between the spherical laddu and the cubical box. Also, a comparative study conducted by the TTD’s health department by keeping two laddus, one in a plastic cover and the other in a paper box, showed that they retained their freshness for ten days.

Tirumala is currently the source point for the distribution of tens of thousands of plastic covers a day to devotees. The shift to paper box, once initiated, will make Tirupati a plastic-free city in its true sense.

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