Bengaluru-based sustainability-based packaging solutions start-up Bambrew has developed a unique recycled paper whose strength has been increased at least six times by infusing cotton fabric in between and can recycled more than once, said Vaibhav Anant, the company’s founder. 

The paper, which is recycled, has been developed through a proprietary process and Bambrew has filed for a patent for its innovation, he told businessline.

For packaging industry

“We are the only company to develop this kind of paper in the world that enhances the strength by 6-7 times. This basically allows us to use more and more recycled paper. Earlier, recycled paper could not be used more than once,” Anant said.

One of the reasons for recycled paper not being used more than once was it was not food grade. In addition, its strength was poor. 

Recycled papers are mainly used by the corrugated box industry, which supplies brown boxes for packaging of consumer, electronic and e-commerce products. 

The newly developed paper can be used for packaging, including high-end ones. “We are working with many big brands such as Big Basket, 1 mg, Tatas and Myntra, . At the global level, we have set our foot in Europe, the US, Australia and the Gulf. It has on boarded companies such as Blinkitt, Zepto, and Pepe jeans as its clients,” said Anant, who was inducted by the Ministry of Agriculture as an advisor to the Bamboo Sector Development Committee last year.

Replacing FMCG sachets

Bambrew has begun working with some major FMCG companies too to replace the sachet packets for shampoos, detergents with paper-based materials that have all the properties of plastic but are 100 per cent biodegradable.  

“Our products are 100 per cent plastic-free certified by the Government and Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology (CIPET) as well. Inspection firms such as SGS too have certified its paper,” the company’s founder said. 

Launched in 2018, Bambrew began with an annual revenue of ₹5 lakh and conversion of less than 100 kg. Today, it converts over 1,000 tonnes and its revenue has grown to ₹50 crore. 

Bambrew, which meets the demand of over 75 million mailer bags and 12 million carry bags to replace plastic, was formed with the vision of sustainability. 

Starting with straw

“It was to eradicate single use plastic, mainly straw. We chose to make bamboo straw as India is the second largest producer and supply would not be a problem,” Anant said. 

But when the world was hit by the Covid pandemic in 2020, demand for straw petered out, forcing the company to get into packaging, mainly alternative ones.

“During our research, we found out that packaging contributes roughly 55 per cent of the waste generated, mainly through single-use plastic. In India, 44 million tonnes of plastic is consumed every year and 91 per cent of it does not get recycled. Whatever is recycled is recycled through a conscious set of people,” the founder of Bambrew said.    

The company,  which has a manufacturing sustainable packaging unit in Bengaluruwith a capacity to produce 3,000 tonnes of paper every month, then understood that straw will not help to achieve its vision. 

Utilising agro-wastes

“We thought of developing paper-based materials. We chose paper as raw material and in paper, we chose bamboo, banana fibres and multiple agro-waste based products that can be converted into paper to enhance the sustainability aspect. We don’t cut trees to make our paper,” Anant said.

Besides plant fibres, which are one of the major resources, the company also looks at waste generated from the harvest of wheat or paddy. “The straws can be developed into paper. These are some of the agro-waste based papers we are developing. We use bamboo as a material for certain grades of packaging (in view of its fibre length and strength),” he said. 

Bambrew, which has grown into a 192-member team from a meagre three, will set up sales offices in 3-4 months in Abu Dhabi or Dubai as it has begun supplying to multinational firms. “We are also keen on setting up offices in Europe and the US,” the company’s founder said.  

Raw material sources

The start-up has multiple sources for its raw materials in the country and abroad.   “Our agri-waste based paper materials are sourced within the country only. We have developed certain papers in India with our own R&D facility, where we work with a paper mill in Kodagu in Karnataka,” he said.

The unit is with a partner of the company, he said, adding that it is setting up another production facility in Gurugram region in Haryana. “We have 172 contract manufacturers working with us across India and we ourselves are setting up multiple units along with our contractors,” Anant said. 

On the response to such paper products, he said the reception was good with people becoming aware, particularly of the brands. The recycled paper market is a bottomless one and any product could be developed including printing papers and books. 

On the awareness among growers to monetise agri-wastes, Anant said farmers were happy to provide paddy and wheat straws as they get monetary benefits, which they currently do not get since they burn these wastes.     

Bambrew efforts help avoid using 1,500 tonnes of single-use plastic every month and it will increase to 24,000 tonnes before the current fiscal ends.