How a Mumbai Startup Used Cornstarch & Bamboo to Stop 125 Tonnes of Plastic Waste!

How a Mumbai Startup Used Cornstarch & Bamboo to Stop 125 Tonnes of Plastic Waste!

In a single day, nearly 26,000 tonnes of plastic is generated in India. Now imagine the impact if all of us replaced the single-use plastics in our homes with 100% eco-friendly alternatives! #LiveGreen #PlasticFreeIndia

One fine morning, Aditya Ruia, a graduate in Manufacturing Engineering at Bits Pilani, and his family decided to volunteer at a beach clean-up drive near his house in Mumbai. In the midst of the tons of garbage, Aditya spotted a particularly new looking chocolate wrapper that was bright orange in color.


Do you want to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle with eco-friendly alternatives to plastic? Check out Beco’s innovative options!


Mumabi-based Beco produces a range of eco-friendly products as an alternative to plastic

 

“My father told me that it was a wrapper of a bar of chocolate which was discontinued in the 1990s. I was shocked at the fact that it had survived for so long!” says Aditya.

The realisation that every bit of plastic waste that is being generated now will come back to haunt us in the future, made him uneasy. Aditya then discussed the issue with his brother, Anuj who echoed his thoughts on plastic waste.

The brothers looped in their friend Akshay Varma, a graduate in Material Sciences from IIT Madras. Together, the trio launched Beco in March 2019, to provide healthier and greener alternatives to everyday single-use plastics and plastic packaging.

“We do so by making green packaging more accessible, convenient and affordable. We currently cater to the home and kitchen use category which silently contributes to nearly 4 tonnes of plastic waste per family per year,” says Aditya

(From left to right) Aditya Ruia, Anuj Ruia and Akshay Varma

 

Though they began their operations this year, Beco has already achieved a lot in terms of managing waste. With the sale of their products, they have been able to avert at least 125 tonnes of plastic waste.

Beco – The Background Story

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimates that approximately 707 million metric tons of plastic products are manufactured in a year. Of all this plastic, about 80 per cent of it is for packaging applications.

Additionally, the CPCB conducted a survey in 60 major cities of India and found that around 4049 tons of plastic waste is generated in each of these cities in a day. This means a minimum of about 25,940 tons of plastic waste is generated in India in a day!

However, the rising eco-awareness in the country, with more and more people opting for a greener lifestyle, is a positive sign.

Beco’s garbage bags made from corn starch are on the best sellers and the tooth picks they produce are made from bamboo

 

Case in point, Tishya Relia, 27, a resident of Mumbai working in digital marketing, She was browsing through her friend’s Instagram story when she stumbled upon Beco’s sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic. “My friend had tagged Beco in her story and I checked out the products they were offering,” says Tishya.

Tishya says that after the plastic ban in Mumbai, introduced in June this year, she had been looking for eco-friendly alternatives. She decided to order Beco’s biodegradable garbage bags, kitchen towels, earbuds for her mother and facial tissues.

“The garbage bags were such a good alternative. The kitchen towels can be washed and reused up to 100 times. If you look at the earbuds, they stick is made out of paper but it is not at all flimsy. I have been trying eco-friendly products for a year and brands like Beco make the transition easier,” she says.

Beco tissues and kitchen roll

 

Akshay, 24, one of the three founders of Beco, says all of the products they offer are made from bamboo that is sourced from plantations in the north-east. “In a year, each acre of bamboo plantation can produce up to 10 tonnes of the crop. We take this bamboo and convert it into chips at our processing unit and we mix it with water to make a pulp. It is from this that we make our products,” says Akshay.

The research and development for these products was initiated in October 2018 and the company chose bamboo because it grows five times faster. Beco ties up with factories who follow sustainable practices in the manufacturing process. “Emphasis is on making the entire process 100 per cent plastic free, biodegradable and eco-friendly,” says Aditya.

Beco’s earbuds and cotton balls

 

Some of Beco’s best selling products include the reusable kitchen towels and the biodegradable garbage bags (interestingly made from corn starch) which are flying off the shelves, informs Aditya. “A lot of people are shifting to paper for sustainable options but we must realise that this is also leading to a lot of trees being cut. By using raw materials like cornstarch to make the bags garbage bags we are also trying to bridge this gap,” says Aditya.

Challenges and impact

Aditya says that one of their biggest challenges was regarding consumers awareness. “It is difficult to make them realise that they too can now be a part of a bigger movement and make this world a greener place by opting for affordable eco-friendly solutions,” says Aditya.

Beco tried to mobilise and educate people about the detrimental impact of single use plastics on the environment. They’ve used data to reach out to offline retail shops and supermarkets along with using social media to spread the word. In addition to this, they also organise beach cleanups in Mumbai every month as a team to move people into action and to also spread awareness about their products.

Beco is also involved in beach clean-ups in Mumbai to mobilise people and make them aware about plastic waste

 

These attempts seem to be working especially among environmentally-conscious youngsters. Take the example of Arishti Sheth, 24, a content strategist based in Mumbai, who loves Beco’s eco-friendly solutions. She met Aditya at a gathering and hearing him speak about saving the environment made her take notice.

“I love their earbuds and having gotten braces this year, I even buy their toothpicks. All of this is packed hygienically which is another plus for me,” she says.

Beco is present across more than 1000 retail stores, organic stores, online ecommerce portals (all major and relatively niche ones), and is soon going to be onboarded in a few supermarkets as well. They’ve also been catering to clients like Paytm Insider, Zomato etc to name a few.

Although they have just started, what plans do the founders have for Beco?


Do you want to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle with eco-friendly alternatives to plastic? Check out Beco’s innovative options!


“We want to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is being generated in every household, home and kitchen, without putting any further stress on trees or natural resources like water. We claim to be the only company in India which is truly 100 per cent eco-friendly. We want to be recognised as the go-to brand for being eco-friendly,” says Aditya signing off.

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

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