Instead of contributing to smog by burning stubble, farmers are learning that waste products can be turned into profit

A study conducted by Harvard’s John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences said: “On certain days, during peak fire season, air pollution in Delhi, which is located downwind of the fire, is about 20 times higher than the threshold for safe air as defined by WHO.”

But now a slew of private companies are coming up with a range of offerings they say can help.

A Hamburg-based company called Bio-lutions has set up a factory near Bangalore to convert agricultural residue into fibres that can be used for packing material and tableware. The end products could also help tackle the burgeoning plastic crisis, as they are as cheap as plastic to produce, and take about three months to biodegrade.

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Chancen Magazin KfW, Olivia Höner

Eduardo Gordillo has found a way to cut down the mountains of plastic waste. His firm Bio-Lutions is manufacturing packaging material and disposable tableware made from crop waste. It’s cost-effective, 100% compostable and provides benefits for smallholders.

Mr Gordillo, 2017 is a crucial year for your firm Bio-Lutions. For five years, you have been developing and testing a new packaging material made from crop waste. Now it’s going into production.

Yes, that’s right. At the moment, we’re only manufacturing 600 kg a month in our Indian pilot plant. Once we finish extending the factory in April 2018, however, we’ll be making six tonnes a day.

Who are your customers?

Our customers include Bigbasket, India’s biggest online supermarket, as well as Licious, India’s biggest online butcher, and Coffee Day, the Indian equivalent of Starbucks. We also have distributors who sell large quantities of our disposable tableware. We have so much interest from potential customers that we’re already planning to build a second production line in 2019.

Why is there such huge demand in India?

The Indians need solutions right away. Their refuse collection system doesn’t work, and in the streets there’s just rubbish, rubbish, rubbish everywhere you look. Most of it is plastic. In India, cows are sacred and are allowed to roam freely. They eat this plastic and then they die. Here in Germany, our waste is less visible. Obviously, Germany needs to cut down on plastic packaging, too. But in other countries, the cry is more urgent: Here! Now! Immediately!

Read the whole interview by clicking on the link below.

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The Better India, Manabi Katoch

Last year’s winter in Delhi was horrifying. The fog in the month of October was not the usual — it was choking smoke that made it almost impossible for children and elderly citizens to leave their houses.

 

While many speculations were made about the reason behind the smog, NASA’s ‘fire map’ on October 17 and 20 showed a considerable growth in red dots over Haryana and Punjab. These indicated fire due to burning of stubble in the farms at these places. The ill-effects of these fires were not limited to the two states. They travelled to Delhi because of the westerly winds, causing major health concerns among people.

Stubble is 8 to 10 inches of straw that stays behind after paddy, wheat and other crops have been harvested using a machine. Farmers usually burn the stubble to prepare the fields for the next sowing season. India produces 550 million tonnes of crop residue every year and an estimated 32 million tonnes of agricultural excess is burnt in India each of these year. A poor farmer cannot afford the labour cost or the time taken to clear his field and hence burning the stubble for next crop is the only solution he knows. But what if someone arranged to clear his field and pay him for the residue?

And here’s where it gets interesting — if this same farm residue is used to replace plastic waste to make biodegradable food grade packaging material for your fruits and vegetable?

This revolutionary step has been taken by BIO-LUTIONS, a Germany-based company, with its Indian partners Kurian Mathew, Kurian George and George Thomas.

 

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