IIT Kanpur-backed innovation ‘Fleather’ – a regenerative approach to creating leather out of floral waste, developed by IIT Kanpur-incubated startup Phool.co, gets global recognition as one of the 15 finalists for the 2022 Earthshot Prize.
Fleather’ is developed as animal-free leather by Phool,founded by Ankit Agarwal and Prateek Kumar in July 2017 with critical incubation support from the Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre (SIIC). The ideation and work to turn flower waste to sustainable products, however, was started by the team by 2015 itself. With critical R&D support and funding from IIT Kanpur, the Phool team started with making incense sticks from flower waste and then introduced the ‘Fleather’ as an alternative to animal-based/plastic leather.
The Earthshot Prize recognizes an accomplished group of entrepreneurs and innovators spearheading ground-breaking solutions to the grave environmental challenges our planet faces. ‘Fleather’ is one of the only two innovations shortlisted from India for the award this year. It has been shortlisted in “The Earthshot Prize to Build A Waste-Free World” category.
Five winners among the fifteen will be selected by the Earthshot Prize Council that include: HRH Prince William, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Alves Da Silva, Sir David Attenborough, Ernest Gibson, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Jack Ma, Shakira Mebarak, Yao Ming, Luisa Neubauer, Indra Nooyi, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Naoko Yamazaki.
Earthshot Prize awards ceremony is to be held on December 2 in Boston. The Prize takes inspiration from President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’. The finalists were selected from more than 1,000 nominations following a rigorous 10-month selection process by a panel of advisors with expertise in science, conservation, innovation, investment, economics, politics and activism.
In addition to their eligibility for the £1 million prize, all Finalists will receive tailored support and resources from the Earthshot Prize Global Alliance Members, an unprecedented network of private sector businesses around the world committed to helping scale innovative climate and environmental solutions and multiplying their impact.
Since its inception, more than 11,060 metric tons of flower waste collected every day from the temples in Uttar Pradesh, especially from the ghats of River Ganga, has been recycled at PHOOL. By the power of flower cycling, SIIC IIT Kanpur-incubated startup PHOOL stops 7,600 kilograms of waste flowers and 97 kilograms of toxic chemicals from getting into the river every day, along with providing livelihood to 1200 rural families and employment to 73 women ‘flowercyclers’ to create ‘Fleather’. Big fashion houses like Anita Dongre have also shown interest in Fleather – a breathable and tensile material and sustainable leather alternative felicitated by PETA India at the CDC’20.