Adrian Pinto is the founder of the Mumbai-based Green Paper Works. It is a unique company that specialises in converting waste from wine-making into beautiful paper. He tells Grin why turning wine waste to paper is one more powerful step to saving our planet.
- How did you think of starting this venture?
I have spent the last 15 years working in the hospitality, wine and spirits industries. As I spent more time in these industries I came to realise that the profession I love was at odds with my intrinsic beliefs about sustainability and the future of our planet. Since I was a little boy I was taught to care about nature and as I began to share these values with my young children I realised that I couldn’t do this with a clean conscience.
India’s booming wine industry has escalated its wine production from 100,000 cases to 3 million cases of wine in less than 15 years and I could no longer ignore the millions of tonnes of waste created by our wineries and wineries around the world. The global wine industry is creating 33 million tons of waste — called pomace — each year. In an ideal world this pomace should be used in loads of products — cold pressed oil, natural cosmetics, food products such as flour. But what are we using it for? Almost nothing! Except for a few wineries that use it for compost, most of the pomace goes into landfills. What was my industry doing to the planet? What kind of a world am I leaving behind for my children? How can I make a difference? It was these questions that led me down the path to founding Green Paper Works. Five years ago we embarked upon a journey to make beautiful paper without killing a single tree. There is no disputing the fact that ours is a paper loving world and Green Paper Works was determined to innovate a solution that will not destroy the planet. A few paper facts …
- 93% of the paper we use on Earth comes from trees
- Packaging makes up 1/3 or more of our trash.
- To print a Sunday edition of the New York Times requires 75,000 trees!
- Every tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people to breathe.
- The growth of paper consumption is directly related to GDP 1:1.
- Availability of raw materials is an increasingly difficult challenge.
And as I type this email more than 199 tons of paper has already been produced. Every statistic I know says that demand for paper is expected to double before 2030. The desperate need to change the status quo led me to a lucky kitchen experiment. That’s where I discovered that the pomace also has another amazing use that nobody else had chanced upon. Green Paper Works is proud to be the first company in the world to patent the process that turns grape waste into 100% natural, chemical- and tree-free paper. Grape Paper! What’s revolutionary about this grape paper is that raw material costs are way lower than wood. Also:
- 100% tree-free — no more cutting trees for paper.
- 100% chemical free.
- 100% waste utilised.
- Lower cost of raw material vs. traditional fibres (wood, thread, biomass, cotton waste etc.)
- Sustainable & environmentally friendly
- Multiple applications: packaging, office stationery, gifting, cellar door, etc.
- We are the first and only producers of Grape Paper in India and have now also received an international patent for our production process.
2. What has been the biggest challenge?
- Grape Paper is economically viable, sustainable, tree- and chemical-free and eco-friendly. Its production can potentially enhance the sustainability of wine industry, transforming it from a red zone to a green zone. However, India is only just coming up to speed with the sustainability conversation and therefore the challenge is for us to convince existing manufacturers and customers to switch to our planet-friendly Grape Paper, albeit at a higher cost.
- While we have had a lot of interest in the product and everyone we have met have bought into our story and agree that it is important for everyone, including businesses, to make choices that will safeguard the interest of our future, converting the interest into sales, notwithstanding the environmental benefits, has been extremely difficult. Making Grape Paper a part of a business’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme has several striking advantages. Environmental economists say that a circular economy is not only sustainable but also a life support system. Materials and resources are recycled endlessly; there is no waste. A circular economy using grape paper would not only save the environment but could also result in nearly 10–20% of savings for corporations. We are so proud to offer a solution to paper that is not only 100% tree-free but the industry creating such incredible waste can also turn waste discharge into a profitable solution.
3. What is your long term goal?
Going forward our plan is three-fold:
- Make grape paper more visible with the existing paper suppliers and distributors as well as end users. Our first port of call will be existing suppliers of paper and packaging to the wine industry. Once we have established relationships with them we will seek to make grape paper products available directly to the end users. These include wine companies (for packaging like canisters, gift boxes, etc), cellar doors, wine spars and wine shops (bags and packaging), hotels and wineries with accommodation (brochures, packaging, etc), cosmetic companies that use grape is some form, perfumeries, etc.
- Once we generate sufficient interest, especially for the high volume products such as wine bags, we will then offer licenses to manufacturers to license our technology, both in India and internationally.
- Invest in R&D to develop “formed packaging” to replace Styrofoam in the wine and packaging industries. The power of this idea is in markets that produce large quantities of wine and where consumers are aware of the impact of manufacturing and environmentally unfriendly products on the planet. We know that this market is primarily outside India at the moment but going forward we would like to see the CSR opportunity, environmental and other green benefits become a serious conversation in India too.