BENGALURU: When banker-turned hospitality entrepreneur Kavya Madappa was printing brochures for her resort Amanvana in Kodagu, she happened to chance upon the idea of tree-free paper. Having been told that there are alternatives – cotton rags and plant fibre – to regular paper, Madappa was intrigued. The result was Bluecat paper, a venture that produces paper through recycling, upcycling and conserving water.
“During my research on tree-free paper, I found that there is enough secondary by-product waste such as cotton, linen rags, coffee husk, banana fibre, mulberry, corn husk and flax fibre that can be used to make paper. The process of making it could save a few trees and reduce landfill waste at the same time,” she says, adding that prior to 1790, all paper was made from cotton rags and plant fibre.
“However, thereafter, trees were discovered as a good source for pulp which resulted in over millions of trees being cut so as to enable paper to be a ubiquitous and cheap product world over. As a result we have managed to destroy several ‘forests’ of our planet,” says Madappa, who went on to enrol at the Kumarappa National Paper Making Institute (KNHPI) in Jaipur in order to learn the various techniques and requirements of venturing into the field.
“For example, we made fabulous paper from flax fibre. This took me over three months to get it right. The resultant paper was so strong. This itself proves to be a great motivator,” she says, adding that the set-up is equipped with their own ETP units and saves over 1,00,000 litres of water monthly.
The challenges have been multi-fold. Madappa had to scale up and install large-scale machinery for pulping and beating, which are rudimentary themselves, finding the right people to install them and training the staff. But at the end of the day, she says watching people concerned about the environment is worth all the effort.
“However, the price factor does prove to be an issue, as handmade paper is slightly expensive. This is owing to the fact that most machines are only developed for rolls of paper, whereas handmade paper is made in sheet forms,” says Madappa.
The entrepreneur has now been trying to get the message out through trade shows and social media platforms.
In future, they plan to get more involvement from outside industries to help make the paper making process faster. “We hope this will inspire more people to opt for tree-free paper as well as begin more manufacturing units such as this. This is our responsibility. More schools should opt for this as they consume over 20 per cent of the paper manufactured,” she says.