Tapari is a lightly curved leaf plate made by stitching several leaves of the Shorea Robusta (sal tree) together with fine bamboo sticks, which have the highest potential for replacing non-degradable plastic plates thereby helping to mitigate plastic pollution.
As the business of tapari making uses only the leaves of a tree there is no forest to be cleared. The company believes that environmental sustainability and business can go side by side, thus making the earth a better place to live.
Phurba Tshering Sherpa
Holding an extensive religious importance, Indradev Duna Tapari began its story in 1998 at Kawasoti-16, Nawalparasi, Nepal. The founder and executive, Mr. Bashu Dev Giri figured out the gap between the demand for and the supply of tapari. Tapari or a traditional leaf plate, also known as dunatapari, is made from the mature green leaves of Shorea robusta (sal tree) – a tropical forest tree popular for its hardwood. The leaf plates were in use in Nepali society even before the arrival of modern day plastic plates, however, these days, dunatapari is peculiarly used as an alternative to non-degradable plastic plates.
At the beginning, the company was initiated in the basement area of Mr. Giri’s house. Over the years, it grew to a point where Giri could work full time and he has been doing so for the last 10 years. Initially, Mr. Giri with the help of his father set out to come up with the technology which can produce thousands of tapari in a single day. Meanwhile, Mr. Giri reinvented the existing Indian technology to speed-up the production process. He added two metallic bowls in every machine which doubles the rate of production. During the interview, Mr. Giri stated, “One needs to save the environment from pollution by using natural product”. This is the foundation for the innovation of tapari.
Bashu Dev Giri, the company’s founder and executive, was fully aware about the uses of leaf plates in religious offerings and ritual programs. There is an immense demand for leaf plates. More than 80 percent of the population in Nepal uses the leaf plates; however, the demand remained unfulfilled.
Realizing the immense demand for leaf plates, Mr. Giri asked himself, “How can I produce enough leaf plates?” He reinvented the existing Indian technology to double production capacity. Currently, Mr. Giri, with 65 employees (including 45 females) produces a hundred thousand tapari every day. Indradev Duna tapari is much more than just leaf plates, rather,in a way, it is linked to culinary habits, hygiene and the lifestyle of Nepali society.
Although the Government of Nepal has made various efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags that are expected to be consumed at a rate of 100 million a month alone in Kathmandu Valley, the implementation of such decisions have remained unaccomplished. Nonetheless, Mr. Giri has provided alternative solutions, albeit, at a modest scale, to mitigate the problems of plastic pollution by offering bio-degradable leaf plates.These leaf plates contribute towards solving the global landfill crisis which means the pile of wastage will be reduced and avert the death of animals in land and water. After use, the leaf plates serve as compost manure for growing plants. It has helped to reduce the use of plastics plates and contributed towards sustainability. The business also helps to go green and contributes towards achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action. It addresses Goal No 12 : Responsible consumption and production.
Most importantly, the business does not negatively impact the ability to generate profit, while at a same time, contribute to environmental sustainability. In fact, in the long run, profitability is expected to be improved through the reduction of expenses and increase in competitiveness.
According to Mr. Giri, “The company along with the four branches earns revenue up to $50,000 in a year.” The increment in the number of types of tapari led to easy market growth which generated a great impact in Nepal. Currently, the company produces 20 types of tapari. The company has installed 50 machines operated by an equal number of employees. The average rate of production is 100,000 tapari per day; the company is aiming to double its capacity with a minimum 10 percent profit margin.
Besides, the company has clients from different sectors such as temples, restaurants, household, dinner parties, catering business, and other religious institutions and establishments. In addition, the company has been able to identify that its customers are primarily the ones who are aware of environmental sanitation and sustainability and who also value the religious importance of tapari. In Hindu religion, ritual offerings have to be made in leaf plates.
The use of bio-degradable leaf plates, helping to attain environmental sustainability, is the basic contributions of Indradev Duna Tapari.
The company has been able to create job opportunities directly to 65 people and, indirectly, 500+ people who are engaged in collecting leaves from the forest. As more than half of the employees are females, the company has also contributed towards achieving the goal of women empowerment. In addition, the application of chemical-free production processes takes into account the health concerns of consumers.
Through this innovation, Nepal uses 3 million leaf plates every month. This means an effective replacement of 30 containers of plastic waste. Tapari has already reduced the usage of disposable plastic by 16 percent in urban Kathmandu. As Mr. Giri puts it “Unlike tapari, any product we buy nowadays has made a long journey leaving behind an ecological footprint.”
Through company’s expertise and resources, they have funded community compost manure programs, sanitation programs, local green organizations in Nepal and significantly raised awareness on environment sustainability. As a concluding remark, Mr. Giri recommends, “Let us all refuse anything that can’t be reused because if nine billion tons of plastic consumption is not too much then how much is too much?”
Bashu Dev Giri, CEO
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Kasawoti-16, Nawalparasi, Province no 5, NP
Business Website: http://indradevdunatapari.com.np/
Year Founded: 1998
Number of Employees: 51 to 200