Location: Bangalore, India
Sector: Manufacture – Transformation, Agriculture
Date of analysis: July 2019
Fighting plastic with coconuts !
Evlogia is a start-up created 6 months ago (November 2018) by Dr. Saji Varghese, a Professor at Christ University (Bangalore) and in charge of the ICLI programme: Initiatives in Creative Learning for Impact.
This program, which brings together many innovative student-led projects, takes place at a dynamic university in terms of eco-initiatives, with recycling and composting units on campus, for example.The ICLI program consists of bringing together students from various fields and developing innovative solutions by combining their skills. The single-use plastics issue, whose straws have become a global scourge, has opened up a huge market for biodegradable straws. A global problem, but a local circular solution: coconut leaves! The Leafy Straws were born.
A little botanical point: The leaves of the coconut tree, the palms, can reach several meters long. Each year, a coconut tree loses on average 6 leaves that dry out and fall naturally. They leave a characteristic mark on the “trunk”. This one is actually a stem, called the stipe. The coconut tree is not a tree, it’s a giant herb!
These dry palms are a common agricultural waste, traditionally used in basketry, roofs and furniture construction. These palm leaves are usually burned in out kitchens or landfills
This is when Leafy Straw made its debut. The naturally fallen dried palm leaves are collected from farms in the coastal states of India: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In all, about 50 women are employed in leaf collection and cleaning. They are then sent to the production unit in Bangalore, that employs 6 other women. The leaves are cut, rolled, glued and polished to create the straws. They are finally packed.
Leafy Straw offers 5 types of straws depending on the type of drink. With only one coconut palm, they can make 600 Leafy Straws!
The engineering students developed low-tech machines to roll out the straws. With this 1500 INR machine they hope to be able to install production workshops directly on the farms and participate in local development.
In terms of sales, the start-up sells its products in India but also exports to developed countries such as the United States and Australia. Samples are also sent to Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, England and Russia. Evlogia does not take orders for reasons of production which are still too low. A second production unit is expected to be established with the support of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), an institute that trains individuals to become entrepreneurs.
Evlogia works on the development of other eco friendly products made from agri wastes, such as stirrers, chopsticks and dishwashing scrubbers. And hopefully the ICLI programme will make new innovations emerge.
Copyright CirculAgronomie 2020