When the Tamil Nadu government began its Meendum Manjappai campaign to promote the use of eco-friendly bags, 39-year-old Kalyana Kumar found a lucrative opportunity. The campaign provided the entrepreneur with the perfect opportunity to bag multiple orders for his eco-friendly containers, plates, spoons, and more.
A resident of Coimbatore, Kalyana began his venture, S P S Kalyan Machine Designers, two years ago. Under this, he manufactures cutlery and containers made from a host of natural waste materials.
“Paaku Mattai (areca leaf plates) is a widely used alternative to paper plates,” he explains in conversation with The Better India. “It was one of the few available options of organic raw material that requires less processing. But I found that manufacturers depended on Karnataka for its availability. But since the leaves are only available for six months a year, they faced huge losses in the remaining time. That’s what inspired me to use different raw materials that would be available throughout the year.”
Kalyana, who was once forced to discontinue his BBA degree to look after his father’s machinery manufacturing business, decided to use his experience to promote sustainability. He innovated machinery that can make alternatives to single-use plastic with over 15 materials, including wheat and rice bran, wood powder, banana fibre, vegetable waste, haystacks, tapioca cassava fibre and palm tree fibre.
The range includes 10 different types of products, such as five types of teacups, four types of juice and wine glasses, water bottles, regular flasks, airtight flasks, and food containers.
The best part? These can either be reused or turned into cattle feed.
Kalyana and his team also spend time carrying out research in their labs to understand the raw materials more, and then provide ideas to those who get in touch with them.
The company has both national as well as international customers. “A customer from Belgium asked us if it is possible to make organic sustainable products out of beer waste. We conducted a study and understood that was possible, and explained the process to them. Similarly, we gave an idea of raw materials from wheat bran to a customer from Andaman. For a customer from Ramanathapuram, we suggested using vegetable waste to make organic containers. At present, we are getting more orders for teacup manufacturing machines,” says Kalyana.
The company has five employees to manufacture the machines and products based on the requirements of clients, he adds. The price of each depends on the raw material used. “Take an example of teacups. If they are made out of banana bran or wood powder, it would cost only 50 paise per piece. If made out of wheat bran, the same costs Rs 3. Based on the amount a buyer can spend, the raw materials can be changed,” he notes.
The price of machines, on the other hand, varies from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 35 lakh. Kalyana says that small machines are manual with a lever control and over 1,000 pieces of teacups can be made per day. The expensive ones are completely automatic and can produce 10,000 teacups per day, he adds.
This innovative entrepreneur considers the use of biodegradable products significant today. “During my childhood, we mostly used steel containers for all purposes. Plastic and paper alternatives came in later, but while they were more comfortable to use, they caused serious environmental issues. Shifting to sustainable products is the need of the hour and I hope more companies and groups take up this alternative. Our company is a humble attempt to aid this process,” he says.
Interested in using these machines and cutlery? Contact Kalyana Kumar at 9597715496.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)