Combating poor health through a new era for cooking

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 2.6 billion people in the developing world are relying on biomass, such as wood, charcoal, agricultural waste and animal dung to cook. This means that cooking methods have not changed in an estimated 1.9 million years. 
 
According to changes in the structure of our teeth, palaeontologists estimate that some of our earliest ancestors were cooking their food over fires as long as 1.9 million years ago.
 
The household air pollution caused by the inefficient use of solid fuels has been directly blamed for 4.3 million premature deaths each year by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
 
Envirofit, a company based in Pune, India, has developed an innovative solution which has seen them named as a WWF Climate Solver in New Delhi on August 1.
 
Enviofit has taken a very scientific approach to the problem, working with a combination of university researchers, national laboratories, and industry experts to develop clean energy biomass cookstoves which reduce smoke and toxic emissions by up to 80% and fuel requirements, costs, and cooking time by up to 60%. In addition, the stoves reduce CO2 by up to 60% and black carbon up to 40%.
 
The design helps in retaining the heat and also directing most of it towards the pot. In addition, the insulation between the inner chamber and outer body of the cookstoves reduces the wastage of heat. Different models of Envirofit cook stoves have demonstrated 32-36 per cent thermal efficiencies under lab conditions. 
 
An additional innovation is the way in which the stoves are marketed to the communities. 
 
Envirofit is using non-retail channels, including microfinance institutions (MFIs), self help groups (SHGs) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to market and distribute its stoves. It is actively working with MFIs to ensure that cost does not become a barrier, and customers have an option to pay for the product in installments. 
 
In the 6 years since its inception, Envirofit India has sold more than 400,000 cookstoves across India- no easy feat given the consumers at the base of the economic pyramid face difficulties affording the new technology. Envirofit has developed the solution by using a carbon credit program to reduce the up front cost to customers. “Our carbon program not only benefits our customers, but also corporates’ CSR programs, giving them a return on their investment in the form of carbon credits from the environmental savings of the stoves,” said Harish Anchan, Managing Director, Envirofit India. This creates a win-win solution for everyone involved.”Envirofit cook stoves, with their higher efficiency, address issues of fuel wood consumption, indoor air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions providing a clean and affordablecooking option for rural households. Assuming that this solution will be able to reach out to the larger market in developing countries, about 12 million people could benefit by the year 2023.
Envirofit cook stoves, with their higher efficiency, address issues of fuel wood consumption, indoor air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions providing a clean and affordable cooking option for rural households. Assuming that this solution will be able to reach out to the larger market in developing countries, about 12 million people could benefit by the year 2023.
What constitutes your major barrier for even faster growth in the future?
 
Low awareness about indoor air pollution and the need for clean cooking solutions remains one of the biggest challenges. The health and environmental communities need to come together to raise greater awareness to protect the Indian population. We are constantly striving to create easier and better access to clean cooking solutions and increasing our partnership base to reach more people is the first step.