The germination of Phool Co. was itself based on a much-needed Innovation for India. The innovation is a new breed of recycling called “Flower Cycling Technology” and its associated innovative products Flora foam, a natural and practical alternative to Polystyrene, incense sticks, and cones and its in-development product “Bio leather” a possible alternative to leather that currently claims more than a billion lives of animals. The innovation “Flower Cycling Technology” aids in extracting scent from mutilated flowers that originally had been offered to deities and God during worship. These flowers were earlier disposed of directly in River Ganga, causing water pollution. Using this Flower cycling technology Phool Co. has developed its product line up that consists of Incense Sticks and Incense Cones.
Goa Institute of Management
Made from temple-flowers, Flora foam is a moldable and durable material used for packaging purposes. Flora foam is 100% biodegradable, and t is customizable to any shape and size depending upon the usage. Moreover, it has superior functionality to traditionally made from Benzene and Styrene, known as human carcinogens.
Incense Sticks and Cones
Using its Flower Cycling Technology, Phool.Co has produced incense sticks and cones from the scent extracted as per the aforesaid process. The incense products, as a result, are organic, handcrafted, and charcoal-free. This results in smoke liberated from using toxins; it is a non-toxic one that provides a therapeutic experience compared to the mass market incense products.
Research and Development
In its efforts to maintain the sanctity of the river ecosystem, Phool Co. is aided by the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research), and backed by India’s leading Venture Capitalists as well. The company has invested heavily in its R&D to invent methods to convert temple-waste into biodegradable packaging and bio-leathers. They have created a compostable packaging using seed paper infused with Tulsi, holy basil, seeds, and ink made from vegetable dyes.
The inspiration behind Phool.co came about in 2015 when the founder Ankit had his friend visit him in Kanpur on Makara Sankranti- an ancient Indian festival marking the end of the winter solstice and the start of longer days, which was celebrated by bathing in the river Ganges. Sitting on the ghats of river Ganga, amidst people performing Suryanamaskars, Ankit and his friend were aghast spectators to devotes drinking and bottling water from the river, despite the river being evidently dirty. They thought to themselves that they were mere spectators and could not help lessen the water's pollution. Ankit witnessed a big truck dump flowers from a nearby temple turn into mulch as they accumulated. Their colors faded away in murky waters. Thinking to himself that something had to be done about the problem, Ankit decided to dig deeper about the harmful effects these flowers had and on upon further research, found that these flowers are loaded with harmful pesticides and insecticides, which on reaching the water - washed up in the river, reducing the oxygen level of the river thereby threatening the marine life.
This is how the motivation to create an organization like Phool.co was found to reduce the impact of waste on the environment. The mission to preserve the river Ganges and empower vernacular people by providing a means to earn their livelihood became a reality. Most of these people were daily wage laborers working tiring amounts of hours per day for very fewer wages. The motivation of employing people of various backgrounds was to create a triple bottom line impact- Social, environmental, and financial. The social impact was to give a fixed source of livelihood such that they could have a fixed-job. The quality of life of many women working in the organization has gone up, which has helped them gain respect in society. Phool.co has a significant impact on the environment, with the flower waste being reduced to 1kg per ton of waste generated. Lastly, the idea of Phool.co from the start was to be a for-profit organization so that they would be able to invest the profit into further research and reduce the impact of waste on the environment.
"Our discussions regarding pollution mostly revolve around the contamination of air and water bodies, we tend to forget to realize the role played by the ever-increasing disposal of temple flowers in water bodies such as holy rivers like Ganges, Narmada, etc. The 8 million tons of flowers that are disposed into these rivers annually is called Flower Pollution", said Mr. Apurv.
Ganga, a holy river and an important part of the Indian civilization, is suffocating because of the pollution. More than 42 lakh people and numerous cities depend on the river for basic needs like food, agriculture, and the innumerable others who visit and take a dip in the Ganga. Unfortunately, after analyzing the contamination levels of the river, the numbers paint an ugly picture. "The flowers that are considered sacred are being disposed into the river start rotting and thus negatively impact the very fragile ecosystem. This water later reaches the groundwater and into every household dependent on it".
But where there's a will, there's a way, and the way is in the form of recycling. Phool provides the getaway to these flowers and that too in an eco-friendly way by reducing the rotting flowers' impact on the already impacted river. With more than 10,000 tons of flowers recycled, Phool has been a remedy to the harmful effects faced by Ganga. The incense products made from Recycling at Phool have many environmental advantages compared to normal incense products like the reduced amount of charcoal, smoke possessing therapeutic values, and negligible Sulphur content eliminating the harmful contents like volatile compounds and aldehydes.
If somebody wants to comprehend Phool's business model, it’s essential to initially understand what this for-profit Indian enterprise is striving to attain.
In terms of the enterprise itself, it is looking for 3 straightforward answers:
• Why sacred flowers pollute our rivers?
• Why are women being denied access to opportunity?
• Why should anybody bear the ill-effects of toxic chemicals?
Phool's products are handmade by women who used to be manual scroungers. India’s 1.6 million manual scroungers collect human excreta from dry toilets and sewers day by day and afterward load it into cane baskets or metal troughs and divert it on their heads for disposal at the edges of the settlement. For a long time now, manual scroungers have dealt with massive social and health risks. There are around 4.5 million dry toilets in India where the human excreta are cleaned manually.
Presently, these women are employed with Phool, earning over INR 7,000 per month, and not only that but now these women have secure bank accounts, access to health insurance, clean drinking water, and toilets. Furthermore, by 2021 Phool aims to provide livelihoods to 5,100 women and recycle 51 tons of temple waste daily.
Ganga, a holy river and an important part of the Indian civilization, is suffocating because of the pollution. More than 42 lakh people and numerous cities depend on the river for basic needs like food, agriculture, and the innumerable others who visit and take a dip in the Ganga. Unfortunately, after analyzing the contamination levels of the river, the numbers paint an ugly picture. The flowers that are considered sacred are being disposed into the river, start rotting, and thus negatively impact the very fragile ecosystem. This water later reaches the groundwater and into every household dependent on it.
But where there's a will, there's a way, and the way is in the form of recycling. Phool provides the getaway to these flowers and that too in an eco-friendly way by reducing the rotten flowers' impact on the already impacted river. With more than 10,000 tons of flowers recycled, Phool has been a remedy to the harmful effects faced by Ganga. The incense products made from recycling at Phool have a lot of environmental advantages in comparison to normal incense products like the reduced amount of charcoal, smoke possessing therapeutic values and negligible Sulphur content, eliminating the harmful contents like volatile compounds and aldehydes
Apurv Misal, Head- Marketing and Sales
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Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, IN
Business Website: https://phool.co/
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
PHOOL transforms lives through temple flowers. Phool.co creates organic products from the waste flowers offered in temples, which helps us preserve the rivers from flower pollution and provide employment to under-represented women in the process.