Dharaksha Ecosolutions, a company founded in 2020, buys rice stubble from farmers and turns it into biodegradable packaging.
Due to concerns about environmental sustainability and the desire to reduce plastic waste, there has been an increase in the demand for alternative packaging options in the nation. As a result, the packaging sector is seeing success with a number of alternative packaging alternatives.
Compostable packaging materials, made from renewable resources like plant fibres, are designed to break down into compost and provide an environmentally acceptable alternative to biodegradable packaging materials, which are becoming more and more common. In 2020, Anand Bodh and Arpit Dhupar created Dharaksha Ecosolutions to meet this requirement. The B2B startup with its headquarters in Faridabad turns paddy straw stubble into biodegradable packaging material.
“We want to get rid of the pollution sources and switch them out for sustainable solutions. Everyone should have the right to access clean air, not only the wealthy, claims Dhupar. During their BTech programme, Bodh and Dhupar shared a room. Over the course of their more than 13 years of friendship and working together on various projects, the two decided to pool their talents to develop a product that takes on a big environmental problem. Between September and October 2022, 650 field fire events were documented, which is more than double the number of incidences noted during the same period in 2021, according to a study by the Punjab Pollution Control Department.
Farmers burn stubble to prepare their property for the upcoming harvest season since there are no other practical options. What if there was a workable economic solution that might help farmers avoid burning stubble by giving them an alternative way to get rid of it? The co-founders of Dharaksha tell YourStory that this was the company’s inspiration. They assert that the Hindi word Dharaksha, which means “saving the earth from pollution,” is derived from two root words: “Dhara,” which means “earth,” and “Raksha,” which means “saving.” sustainable packaging Dharaksha breaks down paddy straw and turns it into packaging by using mycelium, a fungal root. For this, a mushroom species that feeds on discarded stubble debris has been cultured . Because it is a strain that was developed domestically, biotechnology was used to multiply it internally.
According to Dhupar, “We do not buy the mushroom strain from the market as the commercially available strains do not have the required mycelium qualities.” “Nature is the foundation of what we do, and these materials are made from nature. We grow our products rather than manufacturing them, he continues. The packaging materials from Dharaksha are an environmentally beneficial alternative to plastic and thermocol because they can degrade in 60 days in typical soil and have a shelf life of more than three years.
The goods can be packaged in secondary packaging, which is the layer of protection placed between cardboard boxes and the item that has to be protected while shipping. Additionally, the firm focuses in custom design.
The materials used for packaging include anti-static, thermal, fire, and water resistance qualities, as well as not absorbing moisture. The business intends to use the metabolites produced by the mushrooms to make thin-film polymers that can replace MDF wood and provide a substitute for plastic bags. obtaining residue Through a network of aggregators that handle the bailing process, Dharaksha purchases stubble from farmers. The material can be transported affordably once it has been bailed. We are obtaining the stubble from districts in Punjab and Haryana within a 200 km radius. The raw material is then chopped, steamed, and processed, which takes up to 10 days to be converted into packaging. Our main goal is to source from the areas where crop burning is most common, or epicentres.
We obtained almost 750 tonnes from more than 250 acres of land during the season last year,” adds Dhupar. Dharaksha wants to reduce the amount of waste stubble burned by 40% during the next six to seven years. A 50-person production team, comprising the manufacturing task force, is currently present, with 40% of the workforce being female. According to the startup, it pays farmers and aggregators equally. business strategy To bootstrap the firm, the founders first contributed Rs 45 lakh from their personal resources. The cost per piece for the business is volumetric and is based on the size and shape of the goods to be packaged. For instance, a 6-inch-size tiny pot suitable for growing a little plant costs about Rs 30. The price of a common glass jar packing ranges from Rs 10 for small pieces to Rs 250 for large ones. Currently able to produce 20,000 pieces each month, Dharaksha intends to scale up five times in the following four months and ten times by the end of this year. Dhupar continues, “We would be stepping into franchise and distributed manufacturing, setting up 200-250 odd plants all over India, and trying to curb more than 23 million tonnes of stubble waste.” As of now, the founders baulked at disclosing income figures.