Students Create Ecological Pen Made From a Peruvian Fruit Tree
Three students from UPN who are passionate about the environment have been recognized internationally for creating an organic pen made from pacay peel, a fruit tree grown in Peru.
Lucía Pejerrey, Jessica Porras, and José Paredes, along with their Professor, Ruth Manzanares, created the pen in their Industrial Design classes with the objective of reducing single-use plastics.
Given the increased use of inorganic materials due to COVID-19, such as face masks, medical supplies, and other disposable items, the students committed to researching, experimenting and creating an item that would help minimize ecosystem contamination.
The result was the ‘Titanum’ pen, which was recognized at the Abu Dhabi World Urban Forum 10, the foremost international gathering organized by UN-Habitat for the exchange of views and experiences on sustainable urbanization. In addition, the pen project was ranked second out of 245 entries, winning the Semi-Grand Prize at the last Korea International Women’s Invention Exposition.
“We wanted the material to be resistant, and not degrade quickly when used frequently. That is why we used pacay peel, a wholly organic and compostable material,” student Jessica Porras said.
According to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UNESCO, Peru is one of the countries with the most extraordinary biodiversity of products on the planet. One of these is the Inga feuilleei tree or also known as pacay.
“We wanted to contribute to reducing plastic, and what better way than with a peel of a Peruvian fruit. People consume the pacay, and the waste that is discarded can be reused. We gave the pacay peel another function,” student Lucía Pejerrey remarked.
Not only is the pacay peel reused to make the pen, incredibly, the pen can be used as compost when the ink runs out. The body is placed in the ground, and with the seed of organic material (such as a tomato, lemon or even parsley) encapsulated at the top, a new plant can germinate.
“That is the important thing about the product, it does not degrade like other disposable objects made with biodegradable material. Also, due to its ergonomic shape, it helps a lot when writing,” Industrial Design Professor, Ruth Manzanares said.
In 2019, Peru banned single-use plastics such as bags, straws, and disposable cups. However, this does not include everyday products such as pens.
“Thousands of people use this item, and its final destination is often the street or the garbage. It may be a small product, but given it’s produced in large quantities, it affects the environment,” Lucía Pejerrey added.
The team has been looking for strategic alliances to make the pen in a factory, for distribution to all sectors of the population.
Ahead of World Environment Day next month, we want to acknowledge and thank Lucía, Jessica, José and Professor Manzanares for their innovation and environmental contribution.