India is one of the largest importers of paper globally, yet old data shows that of the 1.50 million tonnes of newspapers and magazines collected by hawkers, only 23% reaches recycling mills. India imports 60% of its waste paper, having a large industry that runs on buying and selling paper. Newspapers are the last stage of paper production and are peppered with chemicals in order to recycle it. Paper finds several uses in India, from container of street food to portable hand-fans to fly-swatters and miniature boats during rains. But what if we told you it also comes as furniture that is water resistant and will not collapse?
This story is about Pulp Factory, a company that upcycles waste newspaper to create water resistant yet sturdy furniture and home décor. The idea struck Founder and former Art and Design student Spriha Chokani who uses her craft to highlight the myriad uses of paper, and expand its utility. Pulp Factory works mostly with waste newspaper sourced from local hawkers in Jaipur, Rajasthan, since newsprint is the last stage of paper recycling and ends up in a landfill. It can only be recycled seven times since the fibre becomes too short to hold the print but is the perfect ingredient for her furniture.
Pulp Factory envisions an ecosystem where waste is optimised to create employment besides encouraging mindful and efficient use of material. The materials are all locally sourced and hope to encourage a circular material system. The whole idea involved making paper a mainstream commodity by interspersing it with sustainable practices. Pulp Factory is looking at ways of processing moulds that are recyclable and biodegradable.
Pulp Factory Furniture: Waste paper is first turned into a pulp using a pulping machine after which a natural plant-based glue binds it and makes it water proof. An oil and wax combination forms the mix of the base, sometimes with traditional craft additions like lac or lime. Their entire-process is done manually.
The base is pure and raw with an aim to highlight the virality of paper, infused sometimes with traditional Indian craft methods. Lime, la and acne are used as surface finishes to add texture to the product. like lime, cane and lac. The products are usually coloured with natural oxides and pigments. It usually takes a month except for larger products. Pulp Factory was created to give paper a second chance and expand the existing knowledge of how it can be utilised. The furniture is made by women who have been trained in this regard while the men do the weaving. Pulp Factory has broadened its vision to paper-weaving made of paper and hand-spun cotton. The vision is to create products that are biodegradable, compostable and to redefine the usage of paper other than a disposable, single-use commodity. The Pulp Factory recently won the Green Product Award, 2021, under the handicraft category and has brought hope to the use of paper for a sustainable future.