Agricultural Waste Says Farewell to Single-Use Plastic
Kaushal Shah has been selected as part of UNICEF Innovation30: Young Innovators Shaping the Future.
Countries of Solution Deployment: India
Innovation Accelerator: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, United Kingdom
As a child, Kaushal Shah, now 31, loved riding the forklift in the factory of his family’s paper and packaging business in India. Today, he is the mastermind behind EnvoBarrier, a sustainable, flexible packaging solution that could eradicate single-use plastic.
Instead of using wood pulp from slow-growing commercial trees, EnvoBarrier converts agricultural waste into pressed and dried pulp fibres and adds different barriers capable of resisting water, oil and grease, moisture, oxygen, and aroma. This commercial approach to using agricultural waste allows EnvoBarrier to pay farmers for their waste, creating entirely new markets. Considering that EnvoBarrier products can be composted in 12 days, the end-of-life innovation is as impressive as its creation.
Children are more susceptible to the negative impacts of environmental toxins from single-use plastic. EnvoBarrier is setting the stage for a significant reduction in single-use plastics, from food packaging to e-commerce, while significantly reducing the carbon footprint by more than 30 per cent. In just one year, Kaushal’s creation has reduced CO2 emissions equivalent to removing 21,000 cars from the road.
One of EnvoBarrier’s products, the “Good Cup,” challenged the norms of cafeteria disposables. Made from a blend of sugarcane waste, wheat straw, rice husk, and maize, the cup could compost itself in 12 days. Kaushal, who loves live music, offered a dream scenario, “Imagine going to a music festival where all the packaging materials used are sustainable, and the waste generated is disposed of and composted right there at the venue.”
EnvoBarrier has excellent potential for scale as it can tap into the rapidly expanding USD 105 billion sustainable packaging market. “Seven years ago, I was told to look at my idea as a lifestyle business, not something I could scale. Today, the same person is an investor in the business,” says Kaushal with a determined smile.