Career Profiles

Rashmi Prakash

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Turning food and farm byproducts into compostable fibres for health products

A Canadian start-up is turning heads for its unique approach to transforming some of Canada’s 35.5 million tonnes of annual agricultural byproduct and food industry waste – like canola stalks, corn stover, leaves, pulps, and peels – into 100% biodegradable, compostable, plastic-free menstrual pads.

The Aruna team has developed a proprietary fibre extraction process as well as a novel, leak-proof pad layer in which natural fibres play a key role. Much of their research and development has focused on identifying the properties of different fibres – such as length and diameter – instead of specific plants or crops that could work well for their products, all of which means that they can use a wide range of different raw feedstocks, including even invasive species like cat tails, in their manufacturing processes.

The company is currently building a facility in Nova Scotia in advance of a product launch and is looking to Canadian farmers who would be willing to supply fibres for their products.

“Because of the scale of menstrual products needed, we will need a wide variety of materials, and as we scale up and set up micro-manufacturing facilities in different parts of the country, we can use more local fibres,” says Aruna co-founder Rashmi Prakash.

“We’re a proud Canadian company and want to support Canadian farmers while making healthcare products more affordable and safer for body and planet.”

In 2023, Aruna won the $45,000 grand prize in the The Green Pursuit, a national sustainability and innovation challenge hosted by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and Bioenterprise Canada.
Farm photos