Meet the Bengaluru-based startup that is working towards a sustainable future with tree-free and zero-waste paper

Bluecat Paper designs, produces, and sells sustainable paper and paper products made from materials such as cotton, coffee, lemongrass, mulberry, and more. The startup recycles all water, making its handmade offerings extremely environment-friendly.

In a world where climate change is a reality and sustainable living seems mandatory, Bengaluru-based startup Bluecat Paper is showing us the way. Founded by Kavya Madappa in 2018, the company designs, produces, and sells sustainable paper and paper products made from materials such as cotton, coffee, lemongrass, and more.

Kavya Madappa with her team

Sustainable startups are the need of the hour at a time when India is facing the worst water crisis in history. Apart from the government and authorities, each individual needs to take up the responsibility to conserve water. With India known to be among the top five waste generators in the world, more entrepreneurs need to step up to provide solutions to this persistent problem.

And Kavya Madappa is doing that with her “tree-free paper”. Keen to upcycle and recycle without compromising on creativity, the ecologically conscious founder aims to conserve water and natural resources during production, making her handmade paper truly environment-friendly.

But how does she create such extraordinary, brilliant, and resilient products?

In a chat with YourStory Founder Shradha Sharma, the enterprising founder reveals more about the beginning and the journey of Bluecat Paper.

All paper is sourced from trees, but you can create paper from anything that has cellulose. At Bluecat Paper, we make tree-free paper; we do not use any tree produce. We make it out of secondary waste that piles up in our cities. For example, we use coffee husk to create paper (which is completely handmade). Since we do not add chemicals to the waste, the paper is also natural in colour,” Kavya says.

Home decor products made from secondary waste collected by Bluecat Paper.   

The Bluecat Paper factory is located in the industrial estate of Peenya in Bengaluru. The distinctive building is where unique raw materials, including flaxseeds, mulberry, and linen, are put to use along with recycled water to create handmade paper and items such as lampshades, table organizers,notebooks and gift hampers. The sustainability-focused startup also offers a papier mâche range, which includes coasters, place mats, bowls, and quirky magnets, and allied services such as invites, custom packaging, screen printing, and event décor.

The startup sources raw material from in and around textile industries in the vicinity of Peenya where cotton rags and other items are easily available.

Kavya says the team talks to farmers, and ask them to send their waste material. “The main sources for our waste are textile companies in India. Used cloth is utilised in the process of making handmade sheets of paper,” she says.

Banana plantations and mulberry are grown in a radius of 40 km near the factory. “This makes it easy to transport residual waste that farmers provide to the warehouse. Furthermore, it helps Bluecat keep its costs down,” she says.

Banana fibre used in Bluecat Paper's products.

Another important aspect of the paper production is conserving water. The factory has an effluent treatment plant (ETP) on the premises, which recycles water that can be utilised again in production.

“As we don’t add chemicals that most paper mills usually use, we are able to recycle water easily and save over 1,00,000 litres of water every day. This in itself makes our paper sustainable and planet-friendlier. I believe the more factories we set up and support, the greater the impact we have in saving trees,” Kavya says.

Paper making process

But how did she scale the business, and how do the financials add up? Will a consumer feel that buying this paper is cheaper than regular paper?

Kavya says that most of us think that paper is cheap, but it is an expensive proposition for the entire planet. “The trees you cut down for paper are costing us. Thus, our three main aims are to save trees, conserve water, and reduce waste. We create beautiful products from waste,” she says.

When it comes to the future expansion of Bluecat, the founder has a positive approach. She says she’s open to discussing research and development with others who encourage sustainability.

I hope people continue to make a conscious effort to save the environment, and use tree-free paper. Maybe, even they can start something sustainable like Bluecat,” she says. “I feel we will scale (our business) if we start to grow more,” she adds.

With our country struggling to save groundwater, this startup shows us how one can take small steps to create everlasting change, be it from recycling and conserving water to creating paper and products that do not harm the environment, and yet add so much value and joy to a household.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)