Appropriate Paper-based Technology

Appropriate Paper Technology
Appropriate Paper Technology in Africa

In many developing countries, raw materials are costly but labour is comparatively inexpensive. In India, for example, recycling is the key. Nearly everything that can be recycled is collected and re-used. This reduces dependence on costly raw materials which may have to be imported.

Appropriate paper technology provides the means for poorer communities to add value by turning waste paper and cardboard into furniture and other useful items. The only costs are flour to make paste and varnish to make the product more sale-able.

By pasting together multiple sheets of cardboard like plywood, an extremely tough, hard-wearing material is produced. This can then be used to produce beds, settees, chair, tables etc. The advantages are:

  • Very low material costs
  • Fully sustainable
  • Virtually no carbon-producing energy required
  • Relatively low labour costs
  • No expensive tools required
  • No factories required, can be done in homes or in simple premises
  • Added value to recycled materials, producing a far better income than simply selling recycled materials to a wholesaler.

Karuna Action Team

Karuna Action are sending out a team of 5 young people for 6 weeks to India to help a community set up a project in Delhi, the capital of India. They will work with a Bengali community who are used to recycling other people’s rubbish. They will:

  • Train local people to make the products.
  • Help establish efficient administration and marketing structures.
  • Investigate the sourcing of materials (cardboard, flour, paint and varnish).
  • Look for suitable outlets for marketing the finished products.


Once the project has been started, it will be fully sustainable and so the only costs are set-up costs.

  • Airfares, visa costs and insurance for the team.
  • Relatively cheap lodging costs for the team.
  • Purchase of the initial supplies of flour, varnish etc.
  • Provision of simple tools.
  • Rental of premises for the short time until the project starts to make a profit.

Most of the team are paying their own way, but we would appreciate some help with the set-up costs. Please send a cheque to:

Karuna Action
The Kings Centre
High Street
GU11 1DJ
United Kingdom

The Team’s Blog

Simon and his team are writing a blog. To find out more, visit

To keep up to date with this project, why not  subscribe to this blog. Simply go to the very end of all the posts and you will find an entry, “Follow Blog via Email“. Click on the link to receive future updates by Email.

Or, you can follow the blog at the Karuna Action web-site.

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

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