Skip to main content

Junk masters (downtoearth)

Most of us never bother to know where the garbage from our households and localities ends up. It is forgotten once packed in dustbin bags and left for the municipality to dispose of. But the fact is most of the refuse keeps accumulating in our neighbourhoods, decomposing, giving rise to unbearable stench and emitting harmful gases, such as methane, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Data with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that India generated 0.14 million tonnes of municipal solid waste a day in 2016. Of this, 60-70 per cent was collected. Since most municipal landfills lack waste treatment facilities, only a small amount—23 per cent of the collected waste—was treated.

Young entrepreneurs in the country are now tapping into this void through a range of innovative solutions, and are converting waste into valuable resources, that too in eco-friendly ways.

Resource in garbage

Green Nerds Solutions Pvt Ltd is one such bootstrap start-up, which evolved from an idea of decentralised waste management that was sent for a competition conducted by the Times of India. “India has a system for collecting garbage but no mechanism for processing it,” says Abhiman Shetty, one of the founders of the Karnataka-based company. This prompted him and his co-founder Nidhish Shetty to develop an automatic garbage machine that segregates waste collected from the civic body and residential apartments into organic and recyclable constituents. While the biodegradable waste is converted into compost, the non-biodegradable waste is compre ssed and supplied to recycle industries.

A wall clock
made using a
discarded CD
A wall clock made using a discarded CD
Abhiman and Nidhish Shetty first tested the technology in Karnataka’s Udupi district and have since provided it to nearly 200 municipalities across Karnataka. They have also tied up with six residential colonies and are managing their waste. “We now plan to provide the complete infrastructure to municipalities so that they can easily process the waste material,” says Abhiman Shetty.

Vermigold Ecotech Pvt Ltd is another such Karnataka-based company, which not only collects and processes waste but also converts it into a valuable resource. It collects waste from housing colonies, hotels and industrial canteens, uses earthworms to decompose the biodegradable waste and convert it into organic fertiliser.

“Vermigold Ecotech provides a visually aesthetic and odour-free on-site solution to waste management. Our profits have reached 10 per cent of the company share,” says Jaideep Saptarshi, founder and executive director of the company. The company has developed the organic waste recycling system along with Australia-based Tat-G Corp Pty Ltd Vermicomposting, and has been providing it across India and Bangladesh. Saptarshi hopes that the company will be able to introduce smarter devices in future.

Creativity in scrap

In Mumbai, Amishi Shah has set up The Upcycle Co with the same aim of processing waste, but with a different product in mind. “People usually think that waste management is all about recycling. But recycling involves breaking a product down to its primary state and then reconstructing it. Our idea of ‘upscaling’ involves using discarded products to make aesthetically pleasing goods for household purposes,” says Pooja Sawant, business development head of The Upcycle Co.

Co-founders of Junkart, which has developed a mobile app to connect people to scrap vendors
Co-founders of Junkart, which has developed a mobile app to connect people to scrap vendors

Shah thought of the concept while working on a project for sustainable development during her studies in Britain. Once back in India, she started collecting discarded household items, such as old vinyl records and glass bottles, and create wall hangings, signboards and book holders. Today, her company employs five people and uses discarded CDs and vinyl records to create wall stickers and key chains. “The motive behind our venture is to reduce carbon emissions from vinyl burning,” says Sawant, adding that the burning of one vinyl record releases about 3 kg of carbon dioxide. This is when a wall sticker made from the record sells for Rs 599-750 and a key chain for Rs 149. The Upcycle Co, which is making its concept and products popular online, plans to expand business to Europe.

While Upcycle creatively reduces the load of pollution, Junkart, a young Delhi-based start-up attempts to address the problem by strengthening the traditional method of scrap collection. Its co-founder Niraj Gupta explains his firm’s aim: “The work of scrap vendors is widely disrespected, so our aim is to empower them.” For this, Junkart has developed a mobile phone application, using which people can directly get in touch with scrap collectors who charge Rs 11 per kg for newspapers to Rs 220 per kg for brass. Set up in August 2016, Junkart has also successfully connected over 300 scrap vendors in Delhi to scrap producers. The company now plans to expand its reach to Bengaluru and Mumbai.

With waste disposal becoming a pressing need in India, municipal authorities can learn a few lessons from these young entrepreneurs.


Popular posts from this blog

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…