As public spitting remains a major nuisance despite more stringent provisions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, a pocket-sized reusable and biodegradable spittoon, with seeds that will grow into plants when it is disposed of, is the latest green innovation being pushed by the Railways to tackle the menace.
It is estimated that the Indian Railways spends around Rs 1,200 crore and a lot of water annually to clean the stains and marks caused by spitting on its premises, especially by pan and tobacco users.
To discourage passengers from spitting on railway premises, vending machines or kiosks are being set up at 42 stations to provide the spittoon pouch for as little as Rs 5 to Rs 10.
Three railway zones Western, Northern and Central– have awarded contracts to a startup, EzySpit, for this.
These spittoons can be easily carried in pockets and enable passengers to spit whenever they want and wherever they want while leaving the rail premises without ugly stains.
The product features macromolecule pulp technology and is equipped with a material that locks in bacteria and viruses present in saliva, according to its manufacturer.
These biodegradable pouches, which come in different sizes and are reusable up to 15 to 20 times, also contain seeds along with a material that absorbs the spit and turns them into a solid. Once used, these pouches when disposed of in mud or soil, encourage plant growth.
The Nagpur-based company has already started installing EzySpit vending machines at stations. They have also entered into contract with Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Aurangabad Municipal Corporation.
The spittoons are available in three varieties pocket pouches (reusable 10 to 15 times), mobile containers (reusable 20,30,40 times) and spit bins.
This is a win-win for both Railways and passengers. We have awarded this contract under the non-fare revenue scheme and at the same time, we are also encouraging innovation.
“There are passengers, especially the elderly, who will be greatly benefited from this. To top all this, this innovation also discourages people from spitting on rail premises which in itself is a huge gain for us, a Railway official said.
Presently, spitting in railway premises could earn a penalty of up to Rs 500.
Co-founder of EzySpit, Ritu Malhotra said that the product campaign has been created with the idea to grow plants from the waste of human spit.
We have entered into a contract with Indian Railways for 42 railway stations. Central, Northern and Western railways. We also have started installing EzySpit vending machines at some stations,” he said.
Every container has a limit to the times one can spit in it. In a pouch, it is 10 to 20 times, glass has 30 to 50 times and bigger dustbins have more.
Once the quantity is attained, the granular in the box or pouch absorbs the spit and turns it into solid material.
And you can throw that material anywhere as it’s biodegradable. Also, if you throw it into mud or soil then it helps in growing plants as the granular have seeds in them as well.
“One can empty the box/pouch anywhere on the land and the seeds in the box will grow into plants. Nagpur has already taken the product. We are in a contract for one year with Indian Railway and are hopeful that the same will increase, said Malhotra.