- Elephant dung is recycled and disinfected and mixed with other contents like starch to soften the paper
- The unit produces an average of 500 to 1000 sheets per month
- Ingredients vary according to availability and season
They have not only overcome the hurdles but showed an example to those who are least concerned about our environment. A group of differently abled persons from Munnar, the most sought after tourist destination in Kerala, has found a means to stand on, their own without depending on others.
The group is generating revenue by making eco-friendly papers from elephant dung. The handmade paper is in high demand, especially among foreign tourists. The handmade paper unit 'Athulya', under Srishti Welcare Centre with the support of Tata Global Beverages is making paper by recycling jumbo dung, which is abundantly available in the tea estates nearby.
The group also uses other eco-friendly materials like, cotton cloth waste, eucalyptus leaves, coconut husk and pineapple fronts to make the paper. To give a unique touch they are using marigold flowers and leaves of exotic plants.
Other than handmade paper, the unit is also producing paper bags, envelopes, writing pads and paper files from the raw materials that are easily available in the area. The handmade paper using marigold flowers, lemon grass, elephant dung and tea waste are in great demand, Malathi Bhaskar, an official with Athulya, said.
"Members of Athulya are mentally or physically challenged persons, and they make the products. We collect waste material from the tea estates in and around Munnar. Athulya has 37 members, including 16 women," she said.
The dung collected from tea estates and nearby areas is first recycled and disinfected. Non-fibre content is later removed, and cotton rags, caustic soda, starch and other ingredients are added to soften the pulp. The paper made of dung is thicker than other handmade papers and is four times broader than an ordinary A size paper.
The unit produces an average of 500 to 1000 sheets per month. The ingredients vary according to season and availability.
"Initially we used to collect dung with the help of watchers of tea plantations, where elephants used to stray in. But now we collect dung directly from elephant park. Paper made of dung is costly in comparison to others as the manufacturing process is complicated and requires more labour," Malathi said.
The paper costs ₹50 per sheet, but is in high demand among tourists, especially foreigners.
Srishti Trust is also operating a strawberry preserve unit 'Nisarga', natural dying unit 'Aranya and confectionary unit 'Deli.'
Last Updated 7:01 PM IST