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Making Products With Crop Waste Could Improve India's Air and Water

A company that makes packaging out of plant fibers hopes to address two problems at once: air pollution from the burning of crop stubble, and landfills and waterways clogged with plastic.
Made from plant fibers and water, Bio-lutions' packaging biodegrades in a matter of months.
Made from plant fibers and water, Bio-lutions' packaging biodegrades in a matter of months.Priti Salian

BANGALORE—Last fall, near the southern Indian city of Bangalore, Kurian Mathew received an earnest call from a local silk farmer. “Every month, tons of mulberry leaves are left over from our pruned plants,” the farmer said. “Would you like to use them at your factory?”

Along with two partners, Mathew runs a pilot plant for a German company called Bio-lutions, which uses agricultural waste to create eco-friendly food packaging. So when the farmer called, he agreed to try mulberry stems and leaves as raw materials. “A week later, sacks full of mulberry leaves were delivered at our doorstep,” he recalled.