Student develops way to extract essential oils from India’s floral waste

Around two million tonnes of flowers in India are discarded every day after religious ceremonies at temples and mosques. The floral waste – everything from marigolds, carnations and roses – can be difficult to dispose of and often end up in rivers such as the Ganges.

Now eco-entrepreneur and chemical engineer, Parimala Shivaprasad believes she has found a solution in a by-product of the floral waste. The 26-year-old from Bangalore, who is a postgraduate student at the University of Bath in England, wants to establish a social enterprise to extract essential oils from the flowers.

The remains, she believes, can be used as organic compost for growing vegetables by temples or small households.

Parimala Shivaprasad told the BBC: “Flowers from religious places cannot really be combined with normal waste.

“Where [temples] have access to rivers and lakes, they tend to dispose of them in flowing waters because that is considered holy.

“Otherwise, they try and get them into the landfills, but if it cannot be combined with the waste it is dumped on open ground and this has led to a lot of pollution in rivers and lakes and on land.”

The eco-entrepreneur has developed lab equipment that would allow individual temples to extract essential oils. She is planning to carry out a pilot study at a temple in Bangalore, which if successful, is likely to be extended to more temples in the area before looking at setting up franchises across India.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. I write about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and I offer content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at



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