KOCHI: All Sham Mon needed was a seed. Last year, his friend in New Zealand had informed him about the country’s stance on single-use plastic. “New Zealanders were not too keen on paper bags due to its decreased tensile strength. They weren’t certain of cloth bags either owing to lack of options when it came to appearance. This struck me to integrate the two. That’s how Pabric was born,” says Sham.
On first thought, the bag does not seem environmental-friendly, considering the inclusion of paper. “Printed recycled paper is imported from America,” Sham immediately quips. Pabric was created under the brand ‘Raro Exim’, co-founded by Sham’s friend, Bindu Pramod, who had invested in the initial phase of the business.
Sham was inspired by courier bags, which are comprised cloth and paper. “I went in search of places that manufactured them. Rajapalayam and Puthukottai in Tamil Nadu are the centres of paper-making companies. However, it’s a cottage industry. After thorough research, I decided to make them myself. I was warned about incurring losses but that was no deterrent. Usually, a courier card has 90 gsm (gram per square metre) thickness and is accordingly costly. I wanted cost-effective bags and chose paper with 45 gsm thickness. I decided to bear the cost, took the risk and went ahead,” says the Kochi-based entrepreneur who works as a managing partner in an IT company.
The biodegradable Pabric consists of roll-form paper and cloth stuck together. Usually, a 45 gsm bag can carry just 1 kg. The fabric used is rather thin too. “But when you combine the two with nanotechnology, the strength is amplified almost 10 times. We experimented with asbestos and concrete,” says Sham.
Naturally, the next step was patenting the product. “I had applied for an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) patent last March, hopefully, we’ll get it by 2020. 130 countries are included in the ICT patents,” says Sham. Pabric however, has already traversed parts of southern India.
“Single-use plastic bags were banned in New Zealand in July 2019. And a supermarket chain has placed an order for 1 million bags monthly. However, due to the lack of automated machines, our production capacity is currently low. We need fully automated machines that are manufactured by German companies. We’ve approached the Sharjah government and submitted Pabric’s project report for venture capital. And we’re currently in talks with paper-manufacturing machine companies. After things fall into place, we can go ahead with mass production,” says Sham.
Sham plans to market it with CSR funds and government aid. The initiative could also produce income in rural areas wherein villagers will be trained to use the machinery. The bags cost Rs 5.