The Mag: Environment

Seedstars Global

MARCH 17, 2020

Around 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees are cut down each year, and during 2018 alone, 3.6 million hectares (8.9 million acres) of primary tropical forest disappeared. The numbers are quite frightening. What will be the outcome of this? How can such deforestation and irrational natural resource usage be prevented?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution or an immediate response to those questions. The best way forward is to take one step at a time and try to change the situation from the ‘bottom-up’, as Bethlehem Dejene, environmentalist and entrepreneur from Africa, is doing with her unique solution Zafree Papers: paper made with zero trees. Bethlehem’s startup makes this possible by manufacturing a 100% tree-free pulp, paper and paper products using agro-waste from small farm holders.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resistance to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. Thanks to solutions such as Zafree Papers, those numbers sound possible to reach. Bethlehem and her team are on a mission to transform the paper manufacturing industry into a 100% tree-free one.

The startup became the winner of the Land Restoration Prize by DOEN, aimed at finding and awarding the best tech(-enabled) solutions in the land restoration and land degradation space.

In our episode, you will have a chance to discover more about environmental issues in Africa, and hear more from Zafree Papers and its way of creating an impact.

Additional resources to explore more on this topic:

Zafree Papers’ 1-min pitch

How Zafree Papers work

About DOEN and its impact

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