Indian Startup Makes Tree-Free Paper That Saves Water Too

Bluecat Paper makes its homemade products out of upcycled natural plant fibers.

Jun 29, 2020

It was predicted a few years ago that since the world is going digital, paper would become obsolete but that is not the case. People still want to read printed books, keep a journal, and write thoughtful thank you notes. Paper is here to stay, but it doesn’t have to be made of trees. 

Although traditional paper made from trees is relatively inexpensive, the environment pays a big cost. Over 17 billion cubic feet of trees are deforested every year and over 60 percent of that is used by the paper industry according to Capital Document Services. But there are better options and tree-free paper made out of natural fibers is one of them.

Bluecat Paper, a startup in Bangalore India by entrepreneur Kavya Madappa has the mission of creating 100 percent tree-free paper sustainably out of upcycled natural materials like cotton, linen, coffee husk, corn husk, banana fiber and even a little elephant poo. Almost anything, according to the company, except trees.

Madappa told Better India that destroying trees to make paper isn’t only unnecessary but cruel. “It takes about 7-20 years for a tree to grow, so we need to stop cutting trees. When the human population is ever-increasing, and so is the waste, why not use that? I hope more factories across the world produce tree-free paper.”

After witnessing how paper is made, she started researching alternative methods of making paper. “I found that you only need two things – pulp and water – to make paper. Any pulp that has over 68 percent cellulose is perfect for making paper,” she said.

Madappa learned all about paper by visiting paper makers, experimenting with different methods, and by taking a hand paper making course at the Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute in Jaipur, India before founding Bluecat Paper in 2018 according to The Hindu.

Most handmade paper is made by artisans but Madappa wanted her paper to go mainstream. “I had to scale it up because most of the hand papermakers I knew were making paper in their backyard or in small units,” she told The Hindu.  “At Bluecat, we can make 5,000 to 6,000 sheets of paper a day.” While this is not a huge number yet, the startup is growing.

Bluecat collects about 20 tons of waste from five factories and about 100 farmers every month. The company pays for the scraps and waste and at the same time, it keeps it out of landfills reported Better India.

But the best thing is that making tree-free paper saves 30 tons of wood, according to the company, and a minimum of 55,000 liters of water every day. That’s because the startup has a state-of-the art water treatment plant to recycle and reuse water.

Bluecat Paper produces a large variety of products including notebooks, bags, gift boxes, greeting cards, custom wedding invitations, and even has a line of bowls and lamps made from cotton rags. Upcycling is part of their sustainable mission.

You can help save forests – and reduce greenhouse gasses – by using recycled paper or paper made from natural products. Clothing and shoes are being made from recycled fibers too so it is getting very easy to be green.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.