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Ostry Company was established in Jericho in 2015 as an innovative green business that recycles paper and cardboard waste collected from local businesses to create egg cartons. The fledgling enterprise was just starting to ramp up production when COVID-19 forced their factory to remain closed for two years. Now, the SMART Project is helping Ostry to get back to its innovative circular economy venture.

In early 2020, Ostry’s factory was closed to undergo structural renovations to the building. A closure that might have taken a few months turned into two years when COVID-19 delayed the renovation project. The renovations were at last completed and the company was able to reopen in January 2022, but two years without revenue had devastated the business. Major components of the production line fell into disrepair in the idle period and the staff was layedoff. The General Manager of Ostry, Orwa Abu Baker, remarked, “The impact of the Corona pandemic was compounded due to the fluctuating economic situation and the unstable geopolitical conditions. More than twenty families lost their sources of livelihood.”

In January 2022, around the same time Ostry reopened, the SMART Project launched the Private Sector Rapid Recovery Program (PSRRP). As an SME with an innovative, feasible circular economy solution that was derailed by the pandemic, Ostry was an ideal candidate for the program. Ostry signed on as a client firm in July of 2022, joining a cohort of 59 client firms partnered with SMART to recover from COVID-19 and other economic crises. Ostry utilized its cost-shared Recovery Plan to address crucial challenges that arose upon reopening. The company needed to lower the price of their egg cartons to make them more affordable for local farmers and to compete with Egyptian imports in the Israeli market, and this required lowering production costs. Production required a heating process to bake the egg cartons into their hardened, finished form. Traditionally, this heating process ran on diesel fuel which alone made up 49 percent of production costs and contributed to green house gas emissions, undermining Ostry’s mission to be an environmentally sustainable recycling facility.

Ostry presented their SMART Business Advisor with a plan to replace their diesel-powered heating system with an new system that runs on recycled motor oil, with additional replacements of critical equipment and parts as needed for production. This plan aims to cut fuel costs by 60 percent and increase heating efficiency to reduce emissions. Procuring this customized equipment and installing this advanced system was the first challenge. Importing the equipment as an “off-the-shelf” production line from an international vendor was costly, risky, and presented numerous logistical challenges. In collaboration with their SMART Business Advisor and supported by SMART’s Grants and Procurement Team, Ostry opted for an innovative solution that utilized locally designed and manufactured equipment combined with imported parts as needed. Ostry called upon a local engineering service provider to install and operationalize their highly customized production line. 

The final components of the production line were installed and operational in March of 2023. Over the course of the Recovery Plan to date, Ostry met with several potential clients who expressed interest in buying egg cartons in large quantities. Mr. Abu Baker has built back his workforce from four to twelve, eight of whom are youth and four of whom are women. Furthermore, Ostry has developed a business relationship with a trusted local vendor that can continue to provide maintenance services. Following SMART’s Recovery Plan, Ostry is positioned to become the leading provider of recycled paper packaging in the Palestinian market, as the first Palestinian circular economy business of its kind. Furthermore, Ostry will have the capacity and cost efficiency to compete with Egyptian exporters for the Israeli market.

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