Adding to the list of Nepali innovations and creativity, here comes a fresh concept from two Sauraha-based entrepreneurs – converting elephant dung into paper.
The two brainiacs Sunny Rajopadhaya and Jonej Shakya – co-founders of Ecoorb Initiative, developed the idea after much thought on proper elephant dung management and deforestation.
The idea came to life about some 10 months ago with suggestions from locals and extensive online research.
An elephant excretes an average of 200 kg of dung per day. In Sauraha, there are 200 elephants making it is difficult to properly manage elephant waste. The locals burn the waste as there is no alternative for usage.
Hence, these young entrepreneurs came up with the perfect solution for making paper from elephant dung.
“We have sold approximately 4,600 sheets of papers so far. The papers we make from elephant dung are turned into gift cards, pens and pencils. The 20 X 30 inches 200 grams paper is sold for Rs. 50.” said Sunny Rajopadhaya, whose organization Ecoorb Initiative is a small local business group working under Nepal Communitere’s guidance- a non-profit organization.
“We currently have a small pop-up shop in Nepal Communitere, we also sell our products online”, added Rajopadhaya.
Producing paper from dung takes around 4-5 days. The long process is performed manually, wherein the dung is collected from Sauraha and soaked in water overnight. It is then washed several times until only grass fibers remain.
It is said that the elephant’s gastrointestinal tract cannot digest fibers well and that elephants in general digest only 40 percent of their food. Thus, the dung excreted has the potential to form the needed pulp for paper production.
The grass fiber obtained from washing is then boiled for 7-8 hours, after which the pulp is received. This pulp is then placed in Beater machine and cellulose is extracted. This cellulose is then placed in a framed screen and kept under sunlight to dry naturally.
Rajopadhaya proudly says that they have created employment for six women in Chitwan with this initiative.
Ecoorb Initiative is now looking for investors to increase their production.
“We produce and are also planning on buying a calender machine to improve the quality of the papers,” said the young entrepreneur.