ith increasing awareness against plastic use many governments started imposing bans on single use plastic items including plastic drinking straws. Right now the closest plastic straw alternative is paper straw which is not 100% eco friendly as it has petroleum wax coating and besides trees are being cut to make paper.
Paper straw market grew 5000% in the last one year and is dominated by Chinese manufacturers.
Other organic alternatives like Hay, Bamboo and Edible straws are too costly and cannot be produced in huge volumes due to raw material limitations. On the other hand our country faces severe air pollution due to burning of agricultural and other plant waste generated in tons every day.
Evlogia provides a solution in the form of Leafy Straws that are 100% organic drinking straws made out of fallen dried palm leaves. Evlogia has patented solutions for regular and tetra-pak forms or Leafy straws. By converting the fallen dried palm leaves waste to useful Leafy straws, Evlogia also helps reduce air pollution and also generate employment for rural women.
What is the market size?
The Total addressable market for single use plastic straws alone is 2 billion USD worldwide and including other disposable cutlery the market size is 15 billion USD annually. Leafy straws are the most cost-effective organic plastic alternative and possess better quality than other competing alternatives including paper. Leafy can stay intact in fluids for long hours without getting soggy and can be made at custom sizes. Leafy is the only plastic alternative that can function as tetra-pak straw with piercing strength. With the patented and simple production process and abundant zero cost raw material we are at a good advantage to make it a very scalable and profitable business enterprise with worldwide export.
What made you to start this journey and how is it going so far?
I am basically from an agricultural family and when I decided to venture into entrepreneurship after 20 years of a multinational corporate career, doing something related to agriculture and environment was my natural preference. This is my second startup. We were supplying fresh tender coconuts in semi trimmed form to super markets and houses in my earlier startup when customers asked for a straw to be supplied with to sip the coconut water.
We did not want to supply plastic straws and paper straws has quality issues. We started thinking about making an organic drinking straw and that's how the Leafy straws, also made out of coconut tree waste, were born. We applied for patents under the DPIIT startups fast track patent processing scheme and got the product and process patent awarded in a record time of 7 months from application filing. We started production in Jan 2019 with 3 employees, now our Bangalore unit alone employs 15 women staff all from local neighborhoods and poor backgrounds.
We export Leafy straws to US, Canada, Australia, UK, Germany and UAE, the list continues to grow. Leafy straws have received very good customer appreciation and demand. Before Covid we were receiving orders 15 times more than our production capacity.
Evlogia has won many prestigious awards including Climate Launchpad social impact startup of the year award globally, CII top manufacturing startup of the year by CII startupreneurs, Big Leap 2020 winner of national business plan contest and Circular Innovation Jam Global winner 2020 by The Incubation Network.
Tell about your recent funding and how it has helped you?
We started with a bootstrapping round from friends and family. Soon we were supported by the Karnataka state government via the Elevate Idea-to-PoC grant scheme which was instrumental in moving from ideation to product stage. This was soon followed by seed investment from Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) and the investment helps us with our automation efforts and production scaling up.
Can you give one top customer success story?
Our Australian distributor/customer (GreenByChoice) has the following to say about our product:
In light of the global pandemic this year, it is high time we are mindful of how we treat our planet; Evologia has developed innovative organic coconut straws that will help each one of us to contribute to a sustainable future. The coconut straws are an exciting and impressive replacement to the not so humble plastic straw. Coconut leaf straws will be the perfect spirit lifter towards the end of the Covid restrictions in Australia. We have estimated we will need a very minimum of half a million straws to our existing clientele in Australia alone.
What are the areas that you would like to get mentored?
As a startup we are limited with resources and we seek mentorship in strategy planning and product positioning.
What is your contribution to society?
Evlogia eco care's single focus is replacing plastic and developing the rural economy with global export of make-in-India products made in a circular way. Our contribution to society is 3 fold - waste-to-wealth, rural women empowerment and reducing plastic pollution.
Thanks to Manigandan Kumarappan, Founder and CEO at Evlogia Eco Care Private Limited.
Thanks to Sethuraman Sathappan.