Dharaksha builds biodegradable packaging material using straw stubble

Arpit Dhupar, co-founder and CEO, Dharaksha, shares insights about the material that can potentially replace various applications. These include; applications being carried out by the use of thermocol or polystyrene

06 Apr 2023 | By Abhay Avadhani

The material is built using mycelium, which is essentially the roots of a mushroom, to decompose paddy straw and transform it into packaging boxes

Dharaksha specialises in custom designing the package for transporting glass and other delicate items safely. The team started with initial technical research and farmers feedback in mid 2019 and post having the first raw prototype that was formally registered in November 2020.

The material can potentially replace applications that are currently being carried out by the use of thermocol or polystyrene except for decorative purposes - cushioning in secondary packaging, exact mould shapes for FMCG and consumer goods, white goods industry, glass bottles and glass items and thermal insulation.

Dharaksha’s mycelium-based packaging material prevents breakage during transit. The product is superior in cushioning and can safely transport delicate items. It is primarily suitable for secondary packaging that goes between cardboard boxes and the item that needs to be saved during transit. 

Arpit Dhupar, co-founder and CEO, Dharaksha, said, “Our clients range from white goods companies, FMCG and pottery companies. For example, we are currently in talks with leading companies like V Guard, Dabur, Nestle, and Pernod Ricard. FMCG and white goods companies can utilise our packaging material to safely ship their products sold via eCommerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart.”

“The eCommerce shipping inherently involves tossing of packages and fragile items and has a potential risk of breakage. Our product gives the much required protection for it,” Dhupar added.

The SME sector struggles with the problem of minimum order quantity MOQs with large packaging and thermocol solution providers. Dharaksha’s solution claims to work with as low as 1,000 pieces as MOQ. The die costs are lower, depending on product size and shape.

Arpit Dhupar put forth important features such as, “Our product is better in durability and drop tests. It has agile manufacturing with possibilities of fabricating all complex shapes with the option of Laser Engraving (Branding on packaging) which is not possible in other forms of packaging.” He added that the material does not absorb moisture or catch fire, making it safe during transit, and the product is completely sustainable, biodegradable and home compostable in just 60 days, with a shelf life of over three years.

Dhupar pointed out advantages such as - reduction in box size, ultimately reducing its volume and shipping cost, superior in parameters like strength, surface finish, texture and cushioning; unique end customer unboxing experience; and unique advantage of thermal resistance, fire-retardancy, water-resistance and anti-static.

Biodegradable material replacing cushions in secondary packaging

The focus is on universal packaging designs for all SKUs of Dharaksha’s clients using which they can standardise their packaging SOP. The company can manufacture 20,000 pieces per month currently, scaling up five times in the next 4 months.

“We directly make the shape of moulds that the customers require, so there is not step of processing at customer’s end. They can just directly start using the product. It can be integrated in plug and play fashion in their assembly line,” Dhupar said.

Some of the key customers include; Gourmet Jars, BioQ, Son of Soil and Bonomi - both in startups and corporate segments.

Dharaksha - At a glance
One of the primary causes of pollution and poor AQI is stubble burning. Stubble burning contributes to as much as 26% of Delhi's air pollution. Due to a lack of viable alternatives, farmers end up burning stubble to prepare their land for the next harvest season. “What if there was an economically viable solution that could help avoid stubble burning by providing farmers with an alternative method to dispose of stubble?” - This was the genesis for Dharaksha.

Founded by Anand Bodh and Arpit Dhupar in 2019, Dharaksha makes sustainable packaging material using crop stubble waste that otherwise would have been burnt in the field.  With a vision to reduce environmental pollution, Dharaksha utilises its proprietary biotechnology process to develop packaging material that can biodegrade in 60 days in normal soil conditions, thus serving as an eco-friendly replacement for plastic and thermocol. 

Incubated at the regional centre for biotechnology, Dharaksha utilises mycelium, which is essentially the roots of a mushroom, to decompose paddy straw and transform it into packaging boxes. The company was founded with a two-fold goal in mind - one, to minimise air pollution by converting crop residue into a valuable product, and two, to combat plastic pollution by providing a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional packaging materials.

Latest Poll

Which is the sustainable packaging product among MSMEs that is most popular?


Which is the sustainable packaging product among MSMEs that is most popular?

Bagasse and biodegradable boxes



Corrugated boxes



Paper bags



Recyclable plastic (bubble wraps, bio-plastic)



Total Votes : 3


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