Author: Desislava Georgieva
Published On: 30/11/2021

At first glance, nothing. Long-time volunteer at the Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development Kristiana Opreva is not of the same opinion. She is part of a team that is developing a start-up project to make barbarons out of… beans. And she’s looking for investors who believe this is an effective and realistic environmental innovation.

The main part of the project consists in collecting and purifying the inside of the bean filters so that they can be turned into harmless material for filling poufs and barbarons. The purification technology exists and is being applied in India. Even an Indian company fills plush toys imported into the European market with this type of waste material. For now, however, it remains a trade secret.

Kristiana Opreva is making successful attempts to purify the filters with oxygenated water. Together with the team, they calculate that for one barbaron, which weighs 6 kg, about 600 facs are needed. The cost of the innovative eco-friendly filling material is 300 times lower than that of the largest manufacturers of poofs in the country, says Christiana. And the cost of the finished barbaron is 148 BGN, or about 100 BGN lower than traditional barbarons. We have found that it is extremely better to make poufs from recycled materials, Christiana Opreva is adamant. Moreover, nobody in our country has yet applied this type of technology.

The problem faced by the young agronomist and eco-invator and his team is how to collect the beans, as they are not disposed of separately from the rest of the waste. They discover the largest cigarette manufacturer in Europe, whose factories produce over 20 000 tonnes of cigarettes a year. The problem, however, turns out to be the logistics of the used product.

The first investors to whom they presented their idea called it eccentric and quite innovative and did not finance it. However, Christiana and her business partner do not give up. They are already preparing a minimalist look for the product they want to produce. It is a stress ball filled with recycled beans.

Time will tell whether this idea will prove to be a lifesaver for the beaches of Bulgaria. In September this year, volunteers from four cities collected 360 kg of cigarette butts in just one day from beaches and urban environments. For now, the waste remains unrecyclable and, because of its toxicity, particularly dangerous to the environment – soil, water and living organisms.

Around 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered around the world every year. It takes between 5 and 30 years for them to break down in nature, and this does not happen completely. Cigarette butts contain around 4 000 poisonous substances, 400 of which are carcinogenic. Ammonia and sulphur are released when they decompose. The water is polluted the fastest by this small waste. Cigarette butts account for about 40% of pollution on beaches and can be fatal to marine life. Nearly half of the cigarettes we smoke are dumped on streets, parks and beaches and never make it to landfills.