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How one Couple Turned Elephant Poop into a Paper Business

POOPOOPAPER's logo for their company

Entrepreneurs Michael and Tun Flancman sought out to start an environmentally and socially responsible business of their own. They wanted to work on something that had more meaning to them and find something they could truly be passionate about. They also wanted to be an inspiration to others who want to make efforts to become more environmentally friendly. What better way to do all that then to make paper out of an elephant’s poop? They knew that if successful, they’d be known as the “poo people”, but that didn’t stop them from chasing their dreams and making a successful company called “POOPOOPAPER” that benefits not only the elephants, but the rest of our world as well. Their Poo Products contain no wood, and leaves the elephants unharmed which allows us to decrease our tree consumption and have an overall greener environment.

Surprisingly, the process of poop to paper is quite simple. The initial step is the most obvious: collecting the poop. While they started with just collecting elephant poop, they realized later into their business that most herbivores poop can be used in the process. The reason the animal needs to be a herbivore is that all paper is made out of a pulp mixture that is derived of fibers and since cellulose (fiber from the plants) is indigestible to the animals, most of the animal’s poop is rawr fiber waiting to be turned into paper. POOPOOPAPER gets most of their poop from local farmers and sanctuaries where the animals are well taken care of. After collecting the poop, they must take out all of the unwanted materials that would interfere with the process such as: pebbles, mud, leaves, etc. They then move on to sterilize it(for obvious reasons). They do this by boiling all the poop in a large pot for 4-6 hours at 90-100 degrees celsius. This kills any bacteria and softens the fibers into an “oatmeal-like slurry” which is the pulp mixture that the paper is made from. During this stage, they also add other non-wood fibers such as pineapple husks and hay. They do this in order to strengthen the mixture and give them the consistency that they need to make the paper.

After POOPOOPAPER has the pulp mixture they need, it is transferred onto a conveyor belt which takes it to either get color, or go straight to the screening process. The screening process refers to the actual laying of the sheets and has been used since 105AD since the invention of paper. A screen is submerged in a basin of water and the pulp mixture is then transferred into

One of the final products of elephant dung

the basin. Once the fibers settle to the bottom, the screen is then lifted out of the basin, manually spread to be even, and placed into the sun to dry. Then Voila! You have paper! While paper is in the company name, it is not the only thing or even the most impressive product that POOPOOPAPER sells. They also sell flowers, picture frames, boxes, and even full books all made out of an animal’s poop that goes through the same process as making paper, but they all don’t go through the screening process and instead go through other various processes that achieve the desired final product.

Until Michael and Tun came across this process that they perfected in 2005, elephants were solely being used for their ivory and skin hide to make various things including books dating back to the 4th century Roman Empire era(Nelson 537). Ivory was continued to be used similar to how we use plastic today. Ivory was seen as such a delicacy and highly versatile that at the peak moment of ivory trading, they were using 12,000 pounds of ivory every month(Chan 8). This led to the elephants being hunted to such an extreme that hunting elephants led to the species being classified as endangered. Which is another reason why Michael and Tun started their company POOPOOPAPER. Their process from poop to paper is non-invasive to the animals and in turn actually benefits most of the caretakers of the animals to get rid of the animals poop.

Dating all the way back to ancient times, elephants have been the most loyal servants to man-kind. From their agricultural efforts in the ancient chinese empire back in 4500BC, to their war efforts for

An Indian elephant used for work

the romans, to the earliest mention of elephants in printed english literature in Peter Marty’s exploration of Central and South America in 1555, it is clear how much of an impact these creatures have had on our culture and world. For centuries elephants have served mankind which is shown in a book I observed in UW - Madison’s Special Collections: “their love to their keepers and all men that harm them not”(Topsell 163). POOPOOPAPER is one of the first companies to now serve elephants and leave them unharmed while still getting what they need. Companies like POOPOOPAPER and other animal sanctuaries are making great efforts to keep precious elephants safe on our planet and take them out of endangered and into a stable population.

Key Resources

Special Collections

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