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  • India produces tons of flower waste every day.

  • But now, one company is giving

  • a second life to these sacred flowers,

  • collecting more than 12 tons of them from temples

  • and transforming them into handmade incense sticks.

  • But can this blossoming startup make an impact

  • on India's flower waste problem?

  • We visited the headquarters of Phool in Kanpur to find out.

  • It all starts in bustling wholesale markets,

  • like the one in Shivalaya.

  • Merchants pick up the flowers that they'll sell

  • outside Hindu temples.

  • Because these flowers are used in rituals,

  • they're considered sacred

  • and can't be thrown into the garbage.

  • Every day, more than 1,000 tons of flowers

  • end up in the Ganges River.

  • But many contain toxic chemicals

  • like arsenic, lead, and cadmium, as well as pesticides.

  • I have been seeing people putting flowers

  • in the water all my life.

  • But never before had anyone questioned temple waste

  • as a source of pollution.

  • The seed was sown.

  • Ankit founded Phool,

  • which is the Hindi word for flower.

  • The company's employees pick up the waste from temples

  • throughout Kanpur, making around 19 stops a day.

  • Then they transport the flowers to Phool's facility,

  • where they weigh and separate them

  • from thread, fabric, and plastic.

  • Workers save only the flower petals for the incense sticks

  • and sort them by color.

  • They keep the buds and stems to create compost

  • that is sold as a separate product.

  • Then they lay the flower petals out to dry on large tarps.

  • Once they're dry, they grind them into a powder

  • that is mixed by hand with water and essential oils

  • until it reaches a claylike texture.

  • Then it's time to roll.

  • Workers dip their fingers into the flower powder

  • while rolling to create an even thickness.

  • Then they let the sticks dry

  • before dipping them again in essential oils.

  • They're laid out to dry one more time,

  • then packaged up.

  • Workers here can produce around

  • 400 incense sticks every hour.

  • Ankit calls this transformation flower-cycling.

  • And he says his product is cleaner than others.

  • Normally, incense sticks are made from charcoal.

  • Burning charcoal releases the poisonous sulfur dioxide

  • and gives out a lot of xylene chemicals.

  • In the beginning, Ankit's family

  • and friends doubted his business.

  • When I decided to quit my job

  • and come back to Kanpur, the reaction of

  • the immediate people I knew was I had gone bonkers.

  • That I want to leave a job as an automation scientist

  • and work with temple flowers.

  • He also had to convince the temples

  • to give his business their sacred flower waste.

  • But he says they didn't initially trust him.

  • There's this line in the Hindu Arti that says

  • "Tera tujhko arpan,"

  • which basically means what belongs to the gods

  • goes back to the gods.

  • So this is how I used to convince them

  • that these flowers don't belong to you or me --

  • they belong to the gods.

  • And we're using it for the purpose of making incense,

  • which is again being used for worshipping the gods.

  • Ankit also wants to find

  • other ways of recycling the flowers.

  • He started a research lab to develop new products.

  • They're testing vegan leather

  • and a biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam.

  • But those aren't ready for sale.

  • Still, floral waste makes up only about 16% of pollution

  • that runs into the Ganges.

  • Harmful chemicals, open sewer drainage,

  • and garbage run directly into the river.

  • That's a growing danger for the more than 400 million people

  • that rely on the river for drinking water.

  • And despite best efforts to save the Ganges,

  • it's a long way from being restored

  • to anything like its headwaters in the icy Himalayas.

  • Ankit knows his startup can't clean up the river on its own,

  • but he thinks he can help create awareness about a problem

  • he says has been ignored.

  • And he's setting goals to grow

  • his production and waste collection.

  • Our target is to at least have 50 tons of flowers

  • across five locations in the country

  • to be able to employ 1,000 women.

  • For now, every stick sold

  • is infused with the smell of success.

India produces tons of flower waste every day.

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B2 US incense flower waste sacred river dry

How Sacred Flowers Are Turned Into Incense Sticks | World Wide Waste

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    joey joey posted on 2021/07/01
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