Tarun Jami from Vishakapatnam, through his startup GreenJams, has developed a special kind of brick out of the agricultural waste that sucks out carbon from the atmosphere. The brick reduces construction costs by 50% and is a ‘classic solution’ to the stubble burning issue that causes alarming pollution levels in Delhi. The paddy straws that earlier were burnt by farmers are now used to make sustainable bricks that keep our planet healthier.
The CO2 emissions of the country are likely to be 1.4% or 30 million tonnes higher this year than in 2019. The very walls that surround us contribute significantly to carbon emissions. The bricks and the cement used in making buildings and houses emit very high amounts of carbon. A Roorkee and Visakhapatnam based enterprise, GreenJams, started by Tarun and Varun Jami, is making carbon-negative bricks that in turn reduces the carbon from the atmosphere.
Get Positive News delivered to your Inbox every weekend!
Face to Face with the Problem
Tarun realized that the air quality of Delhi had become worse than ever before. “I entered Delhi in the morning and by afternoon, I already started experiencing the effects of the poor air quality. I almost crashed my car and my eyes kept burning as well,” said Tarun. After reading more about the poor air quality in Delhi, Tarun realized that 44% of it is primarily because of paddy straw burning. He understood that the farmers did not have the time to clear the area filled with paddy straw. And hence, they would burn it.
The Birth of Agrocrete
Tarun developed a new construction brick named ‘Agrocrete’ that has thermal insulating properties and is carbon-negative. It consists of crop residues and BINDR. The latter is a component that acts as a replacement for cement. Cement and crop residues are two binary opposites and are not compatible. Crop residues include paddy straw, bagasse, corn stover etc. The crop residues are first chopped into smaller particles and then processed with hot water. After this, the crop residues are mixed with ash and BINDR in a simple pan-mixer to undergo homogeneous mixing. This mixture is then put into a hydraulic block/brick making machine and finally; cast into blocks.
“The process of making these bricks is easy, less time consuming and environmentally friendly as well. After seven days of curing, they are all ready to be sold,” reveals Tarun. The bricks are priced at around Rs 35 per piece for the customers to purchase. In addition to this, one carbon-negative brick would practically balance out carbon emissions by five and a half red bricks.
The road to GreenJams
Tarun Jami, the co-founder of GreenJams, a civil engineer by profession, was always concerned about climate change. He was keen on finding an alternative to this problem that could benefit the community at large. “I realized that after my graduation, I would have to join the workforce and become a part of this mayhem. Although it was not a conscious decision, I read more about carbon emissions and green buildings. That is when I stumbled upon hempcrete. I immediately fell in love with the material and figured out that this is what our country needs today,” said Tarun.
He went on to join a course for doing his Masters in Environmental Science and continued his research on hempcrete. In 2017, Tarun Jami established GreenJams with the hope of building products that would help reduce the carbon footprint of the country. GreenJams aspires to commercialize innovative technologies to transform the construction industry and develop a sustainable environment.
Early Challenges and Resolution
Apart from the financial challenges, Tarun realized a few technical challenges with his idea. He understood that there wasn’t anyone in India who had the technical skills to make a commercially viable product out of hempcrete. On this road of learning new skills and the technical aspects of the product. Tarun also learnt more about entrepreneurship and how to build a brand. He then noticed that the market was not ready to welcome a product made out of hemp and upcycled material.
“I thought that if there is no one in the country who has done this, then I should probably be the first one to do it. I then signed up for a P.hD and started studying hempcrete academically. By 2019, we made the world’s strongest hempcrete with the help of several facilities that we had access to,” shared Tarun.
The Future of GreenJams
GreenJams’ business model particularly looks at franchising. Currently, it is helping the enterprise reach a good market space and scale well. In the next five years, the startup is aiming at having at least 100 different franchises. These would produce about 3,00,000 blocks per day and the manufacturing capacity would scale up. “Not everyone in today’s time is going to be an entrepreneur and that is perfectly fine! When you work for a company, you give them a certain amount of your effort. If you choose to work for a company that is increasing its carbon footprint, then you yourselves are responsible for the climate crisis. For future innovators, you need to have a better, more holistic thinking approach that accommodates other factors like people, environment and future,” said Tarun.
Get Positive News on Telegram