Releaf Paper, a Ukrainian startup that transforms fallen leaves into paper products, will receive €2.5 million in grant money from EU Commission-backed EIC Accelerator.
The startup “beat out more than 6,500 competing companies,” said its co-founder Valentyn Frechka, a 21-year old biotechnologist, in an exchange with Tech.eu.
Not only does Releaf Paper avoid cutting trees to produce paper. When burnt as biological waste, fallen leaves in cities catastrophically damage the environment via the emission of carbon monoxide and other harmful gases.
“At the same time, leaves are a source of cellulose from which paper is made. For us it is a valuable and affordable raw material that does not need to be paid for as it is a subject of disposing. Leaves are quickly recovered and available all year round. The pulp of the leaf can be a filler and 100% substitute for wood cellulose which is used in paper production,” says the startup.
Releaf Paper’s technology does nor use chemicals and “reduces CO2 emissions by 78%,” claims the startup, while the quality of its paper products is “in no way inferior to [that of] ordinary paper.”
The EU’s grant will be used to launch a new pilot production line in Lutsk, Ukraine, The EU might further increase its contribution, via its European Investment Fund, to above €10 million, notes AIN.capital.
“We are closer than ever to […] the paper of the future. When […] everyone is talking about reducing carbon footprint, deforestation and stopping environmental catastrophe, we are taking real steps to revolutionize the paper industry!,” Frechka was quoted as saying.