Disclaimer: Originally published in June 2018. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
Before taking a look at the eco-friendly poop paper innovators, just look around the room and you can easily notice a billion things made out of paper.
Your elusive books, glossy magazines, wasted printed paper and perhaps an awe-inspiring poster on your wall is a clear indication of the alarming rates of world’s consumption of paper.
While 4 billion trees were mercilessly chopped off to facilitate the production of paper, a group of environmentalists along with local communities in Sri Lanka thought of an alternate solution.
And thus began the tales of their lofty discovery of paper from the dung of Sri Lankan elephants.
Establishing A “Greener Footprint” With Elephant Dung
Weighing around 2.25 to 5.5 tons, the magnificent Sri Lankan elephant lends its supply of dung about 16 times in a day after consuming up to 200 kilograms of vegetation. Individual batches of dung are sterilized before being processed into chemical-free paper.
They are sterilized through boiling, drying, filtering, pressing, flattening and sun-drying. Each sheet of paper can take up to 4 days for production with its texture dependent on the content of fiber in the animal-dung.
The revenue from the elephant-dung industry in Sri Lanka has increased to around Rs. 19 lakh per annum.
Around 2 tons of elephant dung is processed on a daily basis to produce an eco-friendly paper which is sold at 10 LKR each.
What began as a pioneering process by the Sri Lankan company Maximus (Pvt) Ltd in 1997 turned into a giant leap for mankind with 90 percent of the paper being globally exported to countries outside Sri Lanka.
In addition to providing employment to 500 people staying in the local area, they also provide enough funds for the treatment of disabled and elderly elephants under Millennium Elephant Foundation.
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Prospects Of The Elephant Dung Industry In India
Although the art of making paper from dung began in Thailand, India was exporting paper made from the dung of elephants to Germany under the name “Hathi Chaap” or elephant footprint.
Elephant dung is transformed into the paper at a handmade paper unit named “Athulya” in Munnar by the differently-challenged persons hailing from the estate lanes of the hilly tea town.
Paper bags, writing pads, envelopes, paper files, office stationery, covers made of dung fiber paper stand generate revenue as foreigners purchase them.
The manufacturing process uses no machinery. After the workers collect dung from the forest, it is dried and disinfected to extract the clean fiber.
The fiber is boiled and put through pulp-beaters. Artificial colours or dyes are added to the material as per requirement.
The mill produces around 500-1000 papers on a monthly basis with the ingredients varying according to seasons and availability.
The difference that contributes towards sustainability and societal responsibility lies in the creative initiative of turning dung which is deemed useless to the human mind into a resource improving the standards of a living community and the world as a whole.
We live in a disposable society where it is easier to throw things than to fix them. But we need to focus our efforts towards fixing it just like the creative poop-product innovators in order to make a difference.
Image Credits: Google Images