According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reports, India generates nearly 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste in a single day. Almost 50% of plastic pollution is caused by single-use packaging plastic such as bottles, bags, straws, and disposable cutlery. It is estimated that nearly 55% of global plastic waste is scraped, 25% is burned, and 20% is recycled. The scraped plastic is disposed of, which leads to the emission of toxic chemicals into the soil, whereas the open burning of plastic waste releases poisonous gases harmful to the ecosystem.
The use of plastic can’t be avoided entirely, whereas avoiding single-use packaging plastic can contribute a little towards mother earth. With this initiative, 4 enthusiastic engineers- Anuj Ruia, Aditya Ruia, Akshay Varma, and Punit Batra founded an eco-friendly and cost-efficient startup, Beco, in 2017. Beco provides single-use items such as kitchen towels, tissue rolls, trash bags, serving table napkins, facial tissues, earbuds, cotton balls, and toothpicks manufactured from bamboo pulp and corn starch-extracted polymers.
As a responsible citizen and passion for doing something good for the environment, brothers Anuj and Aditya Ruia had regularly participated in beach cleanups. There they learned practically that plastic waste is destroying marine life and though of bringing some solution to the same. Aditya knew that Akshay Varma, his childhood friend, had studied material sciences and practicing it. So, Aditya thought of gathering his group into the project. He asked Punit Batra, his batchmate from BITS Pilani and Akshay, to join the beach cleanups. While they were cleaning the Juhu and Chowpatti beach, Punit and Akshay were shocked to see the stockpiling of plastic waste.
Overwhelmed with this situation, the founders decided to start something regarding plastic waste. Akshay researched and found that Moso bamboo is used for preparing reusable bamboo cloth that is compostable and absorbant. Moso bamboo majorly grew in China, however, available in Maharashtra and North India as well, so it was easy for them to get the supply. Akshay also researched for an alternative and found that corn starch-extract polymers too do the same. Akshay’s knowledge of material science has paid off here, and the group started the improvisation process with bamboo pulp and corn starch-extract polymers.
Initially, knowing the usage of the polymers and bamboo, the founders decided to focus on making tissue paper and garbage bags. Later, after taking guidance from their mentors, they decided to make its foray into the manufacturing of toilet rolls, kitchen towels, and toothpicks by using bamboo.
After spending almost a year in research, the startup registered itself in 2018. As the manufacturing started, for packaging their product, they used craft and recycled paper, as they were against the use of plastic. According to Punit, to use recycled paper was in their plan right from the start.
At that time, when they started the business, Beco became the pioneer to pack the products in recycled and craft paper to entirely make every component of the Beco product eco-friendly and biodegradable. Although they cut bamboo for their products, which grows on a rapid scale as well as consumes less water, comparatively less than most of the tree plantations.
For the manufacturing of the products, the team got the supply from farmers. Initially, the production was going well, but as the product got popularity, it sold out faster like a hotcake, and the supply was not enough to keep up with the demand. They increased their sources.
Beco team had also noticed that their products were not only biodegradable and eco-friendly but also functioning much better than the non-compostable competitors like Origami, Johnson & Johnson, and Paeseo. Alongside all single-use biodegradable Beco products, the Beco bamboo kitchen towel is eco-friendly and washable, which can sustain 100-time washes.
Beco is the only Indian brand that manufacturing an eco-friendly plastic alternative by using bamboo polymer for making disposables items and tissue paper. Beco has emerged quickly into the market. It is serving thousands of stores across Maharashtra, Gujarat, and also available on its official website. Beco is also in plans to expand its range of products by manufacturing biodegradable diapers and sanitary napkins.
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