During his tenure at a local high school in rural Ukraine, Valentyn Frechka began to transform fallen leaves into paper. It was innovative and noteworthy due to the constraints of available resources – particularly those of agricultural origin!
Three years on, the 19-year-old guy leads an initiative called “Releaf Paper,” making paper bags and packaging from fiber extracted from fallen leaves.
The project, started in the city of Zhytomyr, 140 km (87 miles) west of the capital Kyiv, aims to decrease the environmental consequence of paper production. It has partnered with a cardboard factory in the city that employed Frechka as a research and development expert in 2018.
“The idea is straightforward. Things that are supposed to be waste can be reused or recycled. Fallen Leaves are waste that requires removal from playgrounds because they emit much carbon as they rot,” Frechka told Reuters.
“It is a chance for a consumer to use environmentally-friendly packaging.”
In October, Releaf Paper made its first batch of solid paper from leaves assembled in large bags in Kyiv and other cities. It is preparing to go into commercial production.
In 2020, Forbes journal in Ukraine welcomed Frechka to its list of the 30 most successful Ukrainians under 30 years old.