Phool, India’s “first biomaterial startup” was founded in 2017 by the dynamic engineering graduates duo Ankit Agarwal and Prateek Kumar. The Kanpur-based startup Phool which literally means flower has come up with an innovative solution to tackle the problem of the huge amount of floral waste that is daily produced at religious sites and dumped into rivers, posing danger to marine life and water quality in general.
The process is quite simple, the company, with the help of local labourers, starts by collecting huge amounts of floral waste from the riverside of primarily three Indian cities. And then the collected floral waste is brought to the facility where segregation, removal of toxic chemical residue, washing, and drying of the floral waste is carried out. After this standard procedure, the processed waste is handed over to self-help women groups, who take the responsibility of handcrafting this waste into various products like florafoam, incense sticks, essential oils, and other luxury wellness products using their “flowercycling technology“.
Phool, with their noble endeavour, is not only offering a workable solution to the floral waste problem but is also recycling the floral waste to manufacture organic, handcrafted, and charcoal-free incense sticks that do not produce harmful toxins when burnt. They are also manufacturing their own biodegradable florafoam that can be used for packaging purposes. Flora foam is better than the other alternatives in the market, as it has superior functionality and less adverse effect on the environment. Big brands like Havells and Bajaj are already using florafoam to package their various products.
Quite recently, the founders of Phool have announced the manufacturing of a brand new product called “Fleather“. The start-up is based in Kanpur, the leather city of India, so it’s only natural that Phool has developed a new version of faux leather that is vegan, as well as far more sustainable and environmentally friendly than the conventional artificial leathers in the market.
On average, Phool recycles more than 7.5 tons of waste flowers daily, that is 7.5 tons less chemically toxic floral waste, that contains about 100 KG toxic chemicals prevented from going into the Ganges, the holy river of India. Since its advent, Phool has collected more than 11000 metric tons of flower waste from the temples and mosques in Uttar Pradesh.
It’s a small start, but it is headed in the right direction, and that always counts. Phool has emerged in such a time when the need of the hour is to shift away from conventional products and inculcate natural and sustainable alternatives in our lifestyles. The company has started with a great boost, as they have gained funding from the IAN fund, FISE, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and the Bollywood star Alia Bhatt.
In addition to this, Phool’s founder Ankit Agarwal has won various renowned awards including, The Unilever Young Entrepreneur Award, ‘UN Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals’ award, The ‘Goalkeepers’ award by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and GSG Millennial Honour.