Startup Spotlight: Ecoorb Initiative

8 August 2019 - Rachana Khatri

Sunny Rajopadhyaya used to visit Chitwan regularly because he really enjoyed the environment there, especially the trees and the forests. In conversation with the people there, he learned that paper could be made from elephant dung, but hadn’t taken it seriously. It was only when he saw a video on the internet about a successful business in Sri Lanka that sold products made of elephant dung paper that he was inspired to co-found his own company in Nepal.

Ecoorb Initiatives, currently being incubated at Nepal Communitere’s I-Cube Business Incubation Program, now, is a sustainability focused business which provides packaging and wrapping services and finished paper goods such as gift wrappers, paper bags and labelling, using paper made out of elephant dung. Their vision is to offer conscious consumers environment-friendly products that would replace plastics completely. In doing so, they contribute to sustainability and the conservation of resources like trees.

The startup is currently being run by Jonej Shakya, a hospitality management graduate and Sunny, who is a year into his MBA program at Kings college. Both of them wanted to do something independently in Nepal and especially something that was related to the environment; both of them do full-time work for Ecoorb now.

After getting the idea of starting this company, a lot of research went in to figuring out how viable of a business idea it would be. After combing through research papers on the topic and various videos about the production of this type of paper from countries like India, Malaysia, and Thailand, Ecoorb arrived at Nepal Communitere for business incubation.

For their production, they have partnered with green society network in Chitwan. The network, made up of a few local women, supplies processed fibres to Ecoorb. The dung is processed so that the fibre it contains is washed then boiled then dried; in the end there isn’t any dung, just grass fibres that go in to the paper. These fibres are then turned into paper and different paper products like notebooks, drawer boxes, packaging paper, and paper mache lamps.

Sunny says that in Nepal, when it comes to eco-friendly packaging solutions, people mostly think of lokta paper. But because the consumption is very high sometimes, given the amount of lokta paper that is exported, sometimes the there is over exploitation of the plant where they are cut even when they’re still small and growing, so it cant grow again in the future. Ecoorb hopes that they can play even a small role in providing an alternative to lokta paper so that the plants aren’t exploited.

“The last eight months have just been really awesome, and the the company has grown so much” Sunny said. “It was in just an idea when I first came in but now it’s a full fledged small medium enterprise, where I already have a sellable product, and a business that can stand”

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