S'pore start-up launches eco-friendly hell note that leaves no ashes after burning

An environmentally-friendly way to burn joss paper.

Ashley Tan | March 22, 2024, 05:28 PM



With the Qing Ming festival coming up on Apr. 4, a local start-up has launched a new type of hell note — one that doesn't leave any residue behind.

Base Genesis has launched the Eco Hell Note, which is a joss paper that burns cleanly and doesn't create ash.

The start-up hopes that this offers an environmentally-friendly way to burn joss paper while still allowing people to continue the tradition of paying respects to the departed.

Flash paper

The Eco Hell Notes retain the aesthetics of traditional joss paper, with colours of gold and red, unique serial numbers and an imperial seal.

To reduce paper waste, the Eco Hell Note uses the largest denomination of money in the Chinese language, "Yi ji" (一极) at 48 zeroes, so that a single note can represent a stack of typical hell notes.

The Eco Hell Notes are printed on nitrocellulose paper, the same material used for flash paper.

When lit, it burns almost instantly and does not leave any ash residue behind.

Burning of joss paper

Base Genesis, a start-up "dedicated to revitalising cherished traditions, connecting past wisdom with future aspirations", was successfully incubated by traditional joss paper wholesaler Ban Kah Hiang Trading.

The startup collaborated with creative agency MullenLowe Singapore to produce the Eco Hell Note.

"We hope that the Eco Hell Note can help more people uphold our traditions that are dear to us, in a way that is sustainable, socially responsible and keeping with our values of filial piety, giving thanks, and sharing with those in need," Base Genesis co-founder Chris Huang said.

There have been long-standing issues surrounding the burning of joss paper, in particular the smoke, emissions, and the residue the practice generates.

The Municipal Services Office (MSO) previously shared that it noticed that residents are becoming increasingly dissatisfied about joss paper burning and the amount of feedback arising from the practice had increased from 2015 to 2020.

A public education campaign hoping to reframe the burning of joss paper offerings as a cultural practice rather than a religious requirement was thus launched in 2022.

Top photo from Base Genesis