Since the ancient Babylonians invented paper from papyrus, producing it by cutting down trees, it has been a key element contributing to global warming
Shalbrikkho, a Narayanganj based start-up, is paving the way for a better and eco-friendly future by producing plantable seed paper. It is called "Bonkagoj", which is essentially an A4 paper with 11 different types of seeds embedded in it. The idea is to use a paper which can be recycled by planting it.
Since the ancient Babylonians invented paper from papyrus, producing it by cutting down trees, it has been a key element contributing to global warming.
Managing Director of Shalbrikkho Mahbub Sumon, concerned with building a greener society, came up with Bonkagoj while making visiting cards. "When we were making visiting cards for the company, we realized that cards soon lose their value and end up being trashed.
"So, we opted out for a sustainable way to recycle used paper. Within a year we were able to launch Bonkagoj."
"My engineering background helped in this venture. I developed custom machineries and worked 14 hours a day to pursue this goal," said Mahbub.
Mahbub said he faced a lot of obstacles to present the final product in Bangladesh. Granted the product is still in its early stages, Mahbub hopes to release it throughout the country very soon.
How it is made
When asked about the production procedure, Mahbub said that Bonkagoj followed the same production procedure as any other handmade paper.
Used paper is collected, the paper is then shredded, soaked, blended, turned into pulp and placed in dice to make the final product.
The seeds are spread on the processed pulp in the last stage, just before applying the heat and pressure to obtain the final product.
Currently the manufacturing efficiency of Bonkagoj is not very high. While 60-80 pieces of ordinary paper can be produced every two hours.
Bonkagoj is very expensive compared to ordinary paper as each piece of A4-size paper costs Tk120-140 to manufacture.
"The cost can be reduced by half and we are going to launch the product soon in the market for people to use," said Mahbub.
The paper can be shredded after use and when placed on wet soil it will germinate in seven days. But the seeds lose its quality if they are reserved for more than a year.
Currently, Shalbrikkho is working on three other sustainable eco-friendly projects including Pyrolysis, a machine to produce diesel from waste plastic, 'Tium', an eco-friendly jug, and 'Koa', a drinking cup, both which are made from bamboo.
Upcoming projects include leaf plates, essentially an alternative to plastic single use plates. They are planning to introduce it within the first quarter of next year.
Shalbrikkho is also working to launch an alternative to polythene-shopping bags by the month of June 2020. It is expected to be transparent, strong yet disposable, unlike polythene, Mahbub added.