HALIFAX – Greenii Inc. is creating a chemical and bleach-free eco-friendly paper bag out of paper waste to serve as an alternative to single-use plastic bags.
Founder Purush Cannane’s bags are made from repurposed paper waste and are being used by small businesses across the Maritimes.
“We collect clean paper waste from libraries and flyer distributors,” said Cannane. “They always have clean paper waste, meaning the paper has never been used, or gently touched because it comes in excess.”
After collecting the paper waste, Cannane works with a team of newcomers to brush the paper and clean it with surface cleaner before shaping it into a bag.
“We fold it, we glue it, we apply handles, and then we package the bags for redistribution,” said Cannane.
As his business grows, Cannane is hoping to hire more staff by working with organizations for newcomers and organizations for those with intellectual disabilities around Halifax.
His bags are made by hand by a staff of six newcomers with a production capacity of 3000 bags per week. Greenii Inc.’s bags are have been sold to a number of small retailers such as soap manufacturers, magazine news stores, and craft stores.
The bags are available in four sizes and in two styles. One is made from recycled copies of Coffee News and one from white newsprint from Halifax libraries.
With the single-use plastic ban expected to come into effect across Canada in 2021, Cannane sees his product as a viable alternative.
“It takes 17 trees to make one metric ton of paper,” said Cannane. “Even if the paper is recycled, there are lots of chemicals and bleaching, so our products saves on all of that.”
Cannane said most paper bags used in stores are not as environmentally friendly as one might think and are not a sustainable option as a replacement for single-use plastic bags.
“People usually think Kraft papers are eco-friendly, but they are not. It takes tons of chemicals and produces a lot of carbon dioxide, lots of bleaching, and takes lots of water,” he said.
Cannane began working on manufacturing repurposed paper bags in 2019 after working as a software consultant for a couple years. After taking part in both UNB’s Summer Institute and Dalhousie University’s Launchpad Accelerator, Cannane began to grow his business and expand his ideas.
Cannane is working on developing a small semi-automatic machine to help speed up production of his bags. The machine will be custom-made to facilitate creasing, folding, and gluing.
“I am a mechanical engineer, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to use mechanical engineering skills and also I’m very passionate about entrepreneurship and startups,” he said.
The machine is currently being developed as a prototype with the help of local engineers. Cannane is hopeful a prototype will be complete within a month.
“Supply chain logistics are a huge challenge and also developing the technology because it’s not something that exists in the market that you can go buy,” said Cannane. “We have to come up with new processes so it’s a lot of production development. It’s challenging, but it’s also rewarding.”
While he has faced a number of challenges in developing the business, he is thankful for the community’s support.
“The feedback I’ve received from people has been phenomenal and that’s what’s keeping me interested,” he said. “The support and passion and encouragement is what keeps me going always.”
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Liam Floyd is a reporter for Huddle. Send him story suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.