16
Tue, Oct

A rags-to-paper recycling story

India
Typography

At village Bajghera in Palam Vihar on the Delhi-Gurugram border, a paper recycling project of non-government organisation Literacy India provides sustenance to a bunch of women from households with annual incomes of about ₹2 lakh, while furthering sustainable development.

What makes the project...


At village Bajghera in Palam Vihar on the Delhi-Gurugram border, a paper recycling project of non-government organisation Literacy India provides sustenance to a bunch of women from households with annual incomes of about ₹2 lakh, while furthering sustainable development.

What makes the project different is that it is not just another one making recycled paper. Literacy India’s recycled paper project involves end-to-end process — where the final products sold to consumers include items such as carry-bags, diaries, scrap books, folders, children’s notebooks, jewellery boxes, greeting cards, decorative gift boxes, photo frames and tissue boxes.

The processing plant, which is very different from the one started way back in 2005, soaks and combines various kinds of organic material — such as cotton and cotton fabric and bits of wool and jute with shredded paper — into pulp. This is then pressed into sheets of recycled paper of thickness varying from 120 gram per square metre (GSM) to 300 GSM.

The paper component in the recycled product varies between 30 per cent and 70 per cent. For making carry-bags with 5 kg capacity, the cotton component is increased to as much as 70 per cent. Discarded cardboard cartons are also recycled and used to make folders and other items that need hard support.

“We kept experimenting with different proportions of paper and cotton over the years to produce different qualities of paper,” explains Literacy India’s project director Satya Prakash, who holds charge for this initiative. It was mostly a hit-and-trial process to arrive at the right mix, he adds. Strands of wool provide unusual patterns and look to the paper.

Sourcing inputs and demand

Keeping the plant running is not always easy. Technically, the plant can make about 1,000 sheets of 120-130 GSM a day. The project needs to ensure adequate supply of discarded paper and the cotton. Getting discarded paper is not a problem — many companies with their offices in Gurugram donate shredded photocopied paper regularly.

But cotton and cotton scraps need to be purchased from rag dealers. That is because most export houses, who generate huge quantity of waste, usually sell to the rag dealers. Waste cotton and cotton fabrics fetch from ₹20 to ₹40 a kilo, with white cotton fetching higher prices. White cotton is necessary to produce good quality white and off-white recycled paper.

On the demand side, Literacy India depends largely on corporate buying — particularly for carry-bags, folders and gift boxes. Such demand is rarely steady, rather, it is driven by events and festivals. Small quantities of the products get sold in a store at the Bajghera facility, which is visited mostly by donors to the NGO, as well as on online platforms such as Amazon.


Read full article on Hindu Business Line CleanTech



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