Bath University student launches start-up using waste flowers

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Parimala Shivaprasad

A Bath University student has set up an essential oil company which uses left over flowers from celebrations and religious ceremonies.

Retra, which means fragrance in Sanskrit, will upcale flower waste using a simple technique to extract the essential oils from rose and jasmine petals and use the remaining biomass for compost.

PhD chemical engineer Parimala Shivaprasad, 27, launched the company after being inspired from the dominance of flowers in India, which make up one third of the country’s total solid waste.

As flowers can only be used in temples for a single day, Shivaprasad will base a pilot plant a temple in her home town of Bangalore.

Shivaprasad will run Retra as a social enterprise which employs local women in the process and gives a share of the profit to the temple.

Compost produced will be used to fertilise the temple’s vegetable patch.

Earlier in the year Shivaprasad won Bath University’s Business Plan Competition and was also able to test out a prototype with seed funding from a successful pitch to alumni funders in a Dragons’ Den inspired competition.

Now she has received a University of Bath Innovation Award which will finance her to focus on her business for twelve months based in Bangalore.

She said: “India is known as the land of flowers, but little thought is given to what happens to them when they are thrown away, or to the problems they are causing in our waterways. Our lakes are suffocating thanks to the algae bloom caused by discarded flowers.

“The idea came to me on a trip home and being involved with student enterprise at the University has given me the confidence to go ahead with it and help me think through the idea beyond the chemical extraction, which is my trade.”


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