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Paddy stubble for you to dine on

Every winter, we read extensive reports on how Delhi is suffocating in thick smog and how apart from vehicular and industrial pollution, stubble burning is the reason behind the air-pollution. Keeping the urgency of finding a use for the stubble residue in mind, a team from IIT, Delhi has developed a way of turning it into paper plates! The farmers needed a sustainable solution to replace their stubble-burning methods which could also be profitable for them. For a common farmer who depends on the seasons and the markets to give him an income to last an entire year, spending a few thousand rupees every winter to collect and transport his "waste" residue isn't affordable. In this regard, they have developed a process of converting paddy straw (agro-residue in general) into different grades of pulp, which can be used as raw material for various end applications like making paper, biodegradable tableware, fabric, bioethanol etc.

At present, our focus is on making pulp which is good enough to make biodegradable tableware. Because of the plastic ban in several cities, the demand of compostable tableware has increased exponentially, therefore fetching a premium price which is good enough to compensate at least Rs 5,000/acre to farmers, in return for their straw. This is equivalent to 100% profit to the farmers as the cost of collection, transportation etc. is around Rs 2,500/acre," elaborates 22-year-old Kumar. The team has named the disposable tableware made from this pulp, KhaofECO. Made from agro-waste, they decompose easily, leaving no threat to the environment. The team aims at empowering farmers to collect and transport their agro-residue to local entrepreneurs for a profit. These entrepreneurs will then turn the straw into pulp and sell it off to businesses that make biodegradable products from them.


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