Germany-based Bio-Lutions is now working with a farmers' cooperative society in Karnataka's Mandya district to convert agricultural waste into biodegradable, recyclable and food-grade packaging. It uses a first of its kind technology that needs nothing else apart from water and plant excess as raw materials.
It sources agricultural excesses, such as sugarcane leaves, banana stems, tomato plants, etc. from farmers around Bangalore, which is a region that sees four crops in a year, making it ideal to source raw materials.
The company set up its first production plant in the outskirts of Bengaluru with Indian partners in January 2017. It is currently funded by Deutsche Entwicklungs - und Investitionsgesellschaft mbH (DEG) with 5,00,000 Euro as a part of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development's (BMZ) up-scaling programme.
Initially, Bio-Lutons will have two product lines. One is a bio-degradable option of packaging, while the other is a range of tableware for consumers. It has already tied up with a major online supermarket and food delivery service provider to opt for environment-friendly and safe packaging at competitive market prices.
"Localisation is at the heart of the company. The model we follow is sourcing locally, producing locally and catering to the local market. We are part of the local waste management system, making our enterprise truly green and with the lowest CO2 foot print. Given that agriculture is a primary source of income, it is a win-win situation for farmers and the company”, said Kurian Mathew, Managing Director and Partner, Bio-Lutions India
The technology used by Bio-lutions is the first of its kind in the world and the product won the best bio-based material of 2017 award for innovation. It uses only water and agricultural excess. While already existing technologies that convert paper or agro-fibres to packaging must first convert them into cellulose. This process uses chemical additives, bleaching agents, additional binders as well as a lot of water and energy.
In the technology used by Bio-lutions, first the organic matter is dewatered. In a second step, it is ground mechanically into micro or nano-sized fibres. These are self-binding when mixed with water, and can be processed into various forms of packaging and tableware, with absolutely no need for chemical additives. This means the final product can be safely composted even at home by consumers or recycled to be used as raw material for more packaging.