India’s inclination for farming means that the nation generates a huge quantity of agricultural waste. MNRE data asserts that about500 a million tons of agricultural residue are produced every year; NCBI estimations uncovers that around 92 million tons of crop scum are burnt.
Stubble burning is a massive challenge, particularly in the northern part of India, and leads to enormous ecological destruction.
Sibling duo Shubham Singh and Himansha Singh intend to resolve this problem with Pune-based crop waste management startup Craste.
The startup repurposes crop waste into sculpted wrappers, paper goods, packaging, and particle boards, and helps cultivators make extra revenue.
In the beginning
Following the accomplishment of an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, Shubham was doing a corporate job but wanted to walk down the entrepreneurial path. He went on to complete a postgraduate degree and achieved an entrepreneurship course from Imperial College, London.
Additional study regarding crop waste and trash and the burning problem showed that equipment to clear the residue was costly and physically clearing it was time taking. This was why farmers resorted to burning down the stubble.
While working on this problem, Shubham also discovered that India is one of the largest importers of timber. This led to a new idea, and he conceptualized recycling the crop waste to manufacture engineered boards that could be used to make furniture.
Craste buys the agricultural waste from the farmers at Rs 6 per kg and reuses them to make packaging materials and engineered boards for furniture. The engineered particle boards are free of formaldehyde, a strong-smelling, colourless gas used in pressed-wood products and that is harmful to human health.
The startup is also constructing packaging solutions using crop residue. “We developed a patent-pending technology, Fumasolv, to extract a material called Lignin from crop residue to develop packaging solutions. We provide customized packaging solutions to our clients,” he adds.
Craste operates on the B2B model and sells its boards and packaging materials to companies. It also works on exploration, analysis and development to generate custom-made packaging solutions for its clients.
Craste has received several grants such as BIRAC SOCH Award, Biotech Ignition Grant (BIRAC), and AB InBev Grant among others. Last year, it received the Millennium Alliance Award. It has also received funding from Stanley Techstars Accelerator.
“We recently got another central government grant under RAFTAAR scheme where our partner is Punjab Agriculture Unit, Ludhiana, to set up a pilot unit. To date, we have received about $250K in grants,” he said,
Speaking about the future, the co-founder says the startup is thinking to increase funding by the end of this year. He enhances that a portion of it will be used to set up an R&D centre to quicken its research on products that can be made using agricultural wastes.
“Over the long run – in the next five years – we want to scale up our business using the franchise model. We will also be looking at global expansion as we have recorded interest from Africa, Europe, and the US,” Shubham says.