Air pollution originating from farm waste costs India $30 billion annually and is the leading risk factor for acute respiratory diseases in the country. Numerous startups have come up with sustainable solutions to help India tackle the issue of agricultural pollution.
Neway Renewable Energy works with farmers to clear paddy straw by turning the waste into bio-coal briquettes, while another startup, Astu Eco, builds plates, bowls and storage boxes out of areca palm sheaths.
Saathi Pads works with 1,800 banana farmers to create biodegradable sanitary napkins from banana fibre. Malai, started in 2017, ferments water from brown coconuts and makes it into vegan shoes and wallets, which are then sold to consumers in the EU.
Eco-Friendly Cremation uses a variety of agricultural waste, such as cotton straw, edible legume excess, and sago extracts, and turn them into briquettes for Hindu cremations. It has also started to repurpose the remaining ash from funerals as garden fertilizer.
These initiatives are only the beginning, there are plans to repurpose coconut dust as fertiliser and pineapple waste to grow bacterial cellulose. Meanwhile, the federal government announced a scheme in 2018 with focus on converting farm waste into bio-slurry, bio-gas and bio-CNG.