The world is becoming energy conscious and is constantly looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and carbon footprints and shift to sustainable and renewable energy practices. Plastic is a bane to the environment, owing to its ability to adversely affect ecosystems and inability to decompose once it reaches a landfill or the environment. Single use plastics are a major contributor to this problem. A company called Ecovative Design is slowly trying to develop an alternative to plastics by making packaging material and various other products from mushrooms, which are a type of fungus. Ecovative Design was founded by Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre and is based out of Green Island, New York.
Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre worked on their idea as a part of their university project during an Inventor’s Studio course at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They initially developed and created an insulation material using this mycelium technology and named it Greensulate. They followed this up by founding Ecovative Design. After winning $ 700,000 at an event called the Picnic Green Challenge, they went commercial by making a protective packaging called EcoCradle.
The founders claim they were inspired by observing how the fungal mycelium strongly bonded with wood chips. They realised they could use this resinous property to create a product which essentially left zero carbon footprint and is totally safe since it is organic. They chose a special strain of fungus which they left at a place for about five days, where the fungal mycelium bonded with non food agricultural materials and created organic compostable material. They finally heated the product to make the fungus inert. This material was then placed in moulds so it could be shaped into the requirements of the product. The founders developed products which can be used in insulation, protective packaging and structural biocomposites.
It is the aim of the founders that once the use of mycelium grown products gain household acceptance, they can replace the use of plastic and polystyrene. This technology is being studied by other companies who rely on mycelium technology and can incorporate it into their product design. Ecovative Design has a revenue model wherein they license their technology and offer it to interested vendors. Companies like Ikea and Dell use their protective packaging when they ship their products.
With Ecovative Design currently researching and creating products which cater to the apparel, food, textile and skincare industries, it will be interesting to see how these products replace non biodegradable products in the future.
Pappco Greenware – How The Startup Is Bringing Eco Friendly Cutlery To India
Plastic, polythene and styrofoam are seeing increased usage in India owing to their nature of being cheap and disposable after use. However, what people fail to take into account is the damage these materials cause to the environment. In a country with an estimated population of 134 crores, single use plastics see a lot of use everywhere—from food packaging, covers and bags to cutlery. India, which is primarily an agricultural nation, sees a lot of agricultural waste fit to be used to create products capable of replacing single use plastics. Pappco Greenware, an Indian startup, is trying to change this trend by introducing high quality cutlery which aims to replace single use plastics with products that are durable and look aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Pappco Greenware was founded by Anil Agarwal and his two sons, Abhishek Agarwal and Aadesh Agarwal, in 2011. On a trip to Singapore, Abhishek Agarwal came across bagasse products and wondered if the same could be injected into the Indian markets since they are compostable alternatives to plastics. Bagasse is the dry pulpy residue which is left after the juice is extracted from sugarcane. Upon some research, the founders realised the best bagasse products originate in China and went there to explore various factories and their products as a part of their research and development. After doing this, Pappco Greenware was established.
Once the Company was established, the sales were negligible. The difficulty was to get vendors on board to purchase their products. In order to make the vendors understand the existence of the demand for Paapco’s products, they went on to educate potential customers about the importance of the products they were selling and the negligible environmental impact they have. Another major hurdle was the similarity in appearance the bagasse products have with styrofoam, making it difficult to distinguish one product from another. The Company bootstrapped in spite of losses and finally managed to penetrate the market.
Products and raw materials
Pappco currently has multiple products in their inventory like plates, cones, glasses, bowls, boxes, straws, baskets, cutlery and many others. The products are made entirely from bagasse, a material which is available in abundance in India due to sugarcane and bamboo maturing every two years. The products offered by Pappco Greenware also eliminate the need for cutting down trees and petroleum oils used in the manufacturing of styrofoam. The raw materials used by Pappco are compostable and durable, meaning they are harder than styrofoam and able to withstand high temperatures, making them capable of being used in microwaves.
Pappco aims to aggressively capitalise on the current trend where awareness about sustainability and the environment are increasing among the public and many states are banning the use of single use plastics. Pappco Greenware partnered with brands like Curefit, Reliance Retail, Marriott Hotels, Taj Hotels and Future Group, to name some. With products like these in the market, everyone can choose to make a difference in reducing the carbon footprint.
Read more about how this Indian startup is recycling floral waste: How One Indian Startup Is Tackling The Problem Of Floral Waste
How Namo E-Waste Is Solving A Major Environmental Issue
India is growing rapidly in terms of development. More and more industries and companies are now willing to set up shop in India owing to the massive resources available. A country as big as India is prone to having its own share of problems. Waste management is a problem widespread mainly due to the fact there is not a lot of awareness about recycling and waste segregation. With the growing number of mobile phones, companies’ electronic waste is piling up. To address this issue, Akshay Jain, a young entrepreneur, founded a company called Namo e-Waste in 2014.
Akshay Jain was pursuing his MBA from Greenwich University in the United Kingdom when he first saw the waste recycling systems in place to manage and dispose off the waste according to the government norms. He realised the need for the same infrastructure to be established in India. After returning back to India, he spent a year researching the problem and mobilising the logistics necessary for starting his company. The company began operations in 2015. As of 2017, they were handling 20 tonnes of e waste on an average daily.
The startup follows all the norms laid down by the Pollution Control Board when they recycle the e waste. E waste is collected from companies and segregated thoroughly and any usable devices are refurbished and sold back into the market via a dealers’ network. Akshay Jain claims the entire process generates zero emissions, that is, there are no solid or liquid byproducts. Akshay says, “Our technology is based on the manual dismantling, segregation and recycling method. We use a dry shredding and separating method to extract metals from printed circuit boards. The material is granulated to less than 5mm size and in the electrostatic separator, metals and hazardous content are completely separated. We don’t have emissions from the process in the form of water or dust.” The metal waste that is of no use is extracted and sold to foundries. The Company’s clients include companies like Flipkart, Voltas, Tata Sky and Havells.
The startup has a recycling facility and offices in Faridabad and also has a presence in 12 states through its channel partners. This is how this startup managed to gain access to approximately 70 % of the Indian e waste. They have plans to gain a presence in all the Indian states and union territories and also plan to establish a facility where they can extract gold and silver from the e waste.
Namo e-Waste was given the Best Green Startup Award for the year 2015-16 and the Refurbisher of the Year Award by Franchise India.
How One Indian Startup Is Tackling The Problem Of Floral Waste
India is home to the largest Hindu population in the world. In a country which does not shy away from showing devotion, religion plays a very important role in the lives of people. The Ganges river is venerated as a goddess and people living along its banks never fail to offer their prayers to her. The River is dotted with innumerable temples as well. Almost every person visiting the temple or the Ganga, to perform any religious activity, offers flowers during the process. With the amount of flowers which just go into waste after a single use, it contributes heavily to pollution. Phool, a Kanpur based startup founded by Ankit Agarwal, aims to address this problem and turn it into a sustainable business model.
The flowers used in temples and mosques are often for just one time use and people do not have an idea about how to dispose them off since the flowers acquire a devotional aspect to them. They cannot discard them in the trash as it seems like an affront to the deity, so they either leave them under trees or throw them in the River. This is where Phool comes in with a solution.
Phool solved this problem by collecting the floral waste, recycling it and converting it into incense sticks, incense cones and vermicompost. They made the whole process sustainable and a zero emission activity. This is not all they do. Phool also identifies and empowers women manual scavengers by providing them with a job and access to a bank account, health insurance, toilets and clean drinking water.
Floral petals are dried and used as raw materials for making incense sticks, soaps and vegan leather. They also created compostable packaging made from tulsi, seeds and ink made from vegetable dyes. Customers can dispose off the packaging and it will grow into a sapling. They can upload a picture of it by scanning a QR code on the packaging, which will let them avail a discount on their next purchase.
Phool aims to provide jobs to 5,100 women and recycle 51 tonnes of floral waste daily by 2021.
Phool currently recycles 8.4 tonnes of floral waste from temples in Uttar Pradesh on a daily basis. This is a startup which aims at making a meaningful impact while empowering the lives of their people. While the world is slowly realizing the importance of sustainable development goals, this startup has already started practising them.
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