Of Rice For Rice
A circular rice packaging made from a biomaterial derived from the by-products of rice farming.
Rice is the second most produced and demanded staple food in the world, which makes rice paddies one of the biggest sources of methane gas on earth. Almost 50% of the rice in the UK comes from India which contributes to a significant amount of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Being an agrarian economy, there is a large community of farmers in India who practice rice farming. I decided to focus on the rice farming community of my home state of Maharashtra. It is a labour-intensive practice which produces by-products at every stage of its processing. The by-products, rice husks are either burnt which pollutes the air or are allowed to decompose which releases methane.
OF RICE FOR RICE is a community-driven initiative to utilise this waste like rice husks in a sustainable and regenerative manner. Rice farming is practised as per seasonal cycles with a long off-season duration. During this period, farmers of this community are forced to pursue alternative temporary occupations to support their livelihood.
This project aims to provide an added source of income to these farming communities using the surplus by-products like husk to create food containers, packaging and tableware.
The recipe for the biomaterial has been developed by using native, local ingredients and used every part of the rice from the husk to the grain. Rice husks, rice starch glue, corn starch, agar agar and glycerin are the main ingredients for the biomaterial which are sourced locally.
I have devised a methodology to standardise the process by designing a simple kit which can be used by the farmers. It includes a set of moulds made using mango wood, made by the local community of wooden lathe artists, custom measuring tool, a spatula and illustrated instructions in the local language.
This is a truly circular system which repurposes a waste stream as a useful raw-material by introducing it into the system of production, thereby completed the loop.