[Startup Bharat] How Surat-based Canvaloop is making conscious effort to develop eco-friendly fibres
It may surprise you to learn that the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. Most of the clothes we wear are not environmentally friendly as it requires 9,000 litres of water to extract one kilogram of cotton fibre, as per various reports.
But a Surat-based natural materials science startup claims to do the same with just 10 litres of water by using other plant materials or agricultural waste like hemp, banana plant, or pineapple leaves.
, founded by Shreyans Kokra in 2017, wants to bring about the very change in the way one develops fibres, which are later spun into textile as a sustainable material.
Developing sustainable fabrics
A chartered financial analyst by training, Shreyans found his calling when he did an entrepreneurship course from Babson College in the US and became very conscious about the harmful effects of textile manufacturing.
“I never realised the amount of pollution the textile industry was causing and felt this was something we can change. This became our calling and blind passion,” says Shreyans.
He comes from a family that has been into the textile business for over four decades, and this was also the time when there was growing interest around the hemp plant to be used as a fabric.
Shreyans says, the first two years were literally spent in the dark and he terms it as “shooting blind arrows”.
But he realised that Surat, which is a textile manufacturing hub, did not possess any technology that could produce environmentally-friendly fabric.
Canvaloop started building its own proprietary technology where it used many plant materials like hemp and other agricultural waste to develop the fibre.
“Not just hemp, but we work with many other agricultural waste materials and convert them into textile grade fibre,” says Shreyans.
In about two odd years, the startup was able to come out with fibres, which were not only environmentally friendly, but also offered multiple benefits for the end consumer.
“This is a proprietary technology built entirely from scratch, and we know how the process works,” says Shreyans.
He says, the startup has developed the technology to convert a hard product like agricultural waste to a soft fabric like cotton.
The strongest selling point of Canvaloop is that its fibre can be spun and woven on any existing textile machinery.
According to the team, all the fibres developed by Canvaloop today uses minimal amount of water, zero pesticides or insecticides, is created from naturally-occurring fibres of plants, and it also makes better use of the agricultural waste, which is put into high-value use instead of being burnt.
There are other benefits for end-users who are using these fabrics such as anti-UV, anti-fungal, reduces the odour of clothes, it is anti-bacterial, adaptable, and it gets softer with every wash.
The fibres developed by the startup also came at the opportune time as many leading textile and apparel brands were looking to bring sustainable fabric into their portfolio or processes.
“This period of Covid pandemic gave us a huge boost in terms of market perception and demand from fashion brands as there is greater awareness about sustainability,” says Shreyans.
Canvaloop has found strong traction from leading textile manufacturers and brands for its fibre products. This also includes demand from value brands as well.
“There are many other players now who are looking at reducing their carbon footprint. This is a big validation for us,” says Shreyans.
The environmentally sustainable fabric from Canvaloop
Canvaloop has also introduced its own jean brand made from hemp called ‘Slow’. The pricing of these products are higher than the conventional fabric.
Today, the startup claims to be having the capacity to process about 30 tonnes of agricultural waste every month. Though, the revenue details were not available.
Amidst the growth of business, Shreyans was very clear their operations would be run on strong fundamentals and this startup claims it is a profitable entity.
There are other manufacturers who also claim to develop organic fibre or fabric but the founder for Canvaloop believes the biggest competition is convincing the textile makers or brands to go for such sustainable products.
The bootstrapped venture recently raised a pre-seed investment of $200k from Theia Ventures and Social Alpha, and the founder believes it has taken the startup to a different level.
Manoj Kumar, Founder & CEO, Social Alpha, says, “By creating alternative fibres from agri-waste and other sustainable sources, Canvaloop is expanding the basket of fashion and lifestyle choices for a climate conscious consumer. We like it when entrepreneurs create a business case for sustainability.”
At the same time, Canvaloop faced certain challenges such as sourcing quality agricultural waste, which requires creating a certain awareness level among the farming community.
Also, the textile industry, which largely consists of MSME units, produces what is expected of them and generally would not be in favour of producing new fabrics, which may not have takers.
The startup’s proprietary technology has also evinced interest from others who are keen to adopt it and there are some early talks from entities based in the UK and Australia.
“The demand for our product is certainly growing and we have just scratched the surface. There is a long way to go,” says Shreyans.