This Hyderabad based, waste management startup is on a mission to tackle office and household waste while supporting waste pickers.
Waste Management in India
Our country faces multiple challenges in the management and disposal of this gigantic volume of waste. From the non-segregation of waste by citizens to the country’s flawed waste disposal systems that result in the escape of waste, India has a long way to go with respect to efficient and safe waste management. Moreover, this industry supports a huge informal sector of door-to-door rag pickers who earn their daily bread through a waste collection fee and sale of recyclables.
Urban India (about 377 million people) generates 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) each year. Of this, about 43 million tonnes (70%) is collected and 11.9 million tonnes (20%) is treated. About 31 million tonnes (50%) is dumped in landfill sites. Info Source.
About Waste Ventures India
Hyderabad based Waste Ventures India is working towards better waste management with new ideas, innovations, and employment opportunities for those working in this critical yet invisible sector.
After working in a consulting sector in the United States, founders Roshan Miranda, Rob Whiting, and Parag Gupta decided they wanted to start their own venture. With the vision to bring positive growth in the waste management sector, both environmentally and socially, Waste Ventures India was established in 2013. The organisation currently employs around 100 people across India.
It is a waste management social enterprise that is moving India’s solid waste sector to models that are environmentally and financially sustainable. It offers professional waste collection and processing services to households and corporate clients while creating employment opportunities for waste pickers.
Positive Impact Through Innovation
What helps this social start-up stand out is its social and technological inclusivity. It is a technology-driven one-stop recycling shop that believes in fair pay, equitable labour, and sustainability. They believe sanitation workers are an essential and irreplaceable part of this sector. They thus aim at social inclusivity by providing fair prices and allowing sanitation workers to earn 20–25% extra income.
The venture uses its resources to recycle and correctly dispose of waste. This is the kind of waste that waste pickers have a hard time selling and get accumulated in landfills. These include flexible plastics, Tetra Pak material and other low-value paper materials. The team also offers pickup of recyclables from corporate and housing societies while also offering composting services.
Check out how this startup is making waste management cool and convenient.
The venture’s attempts at integrating technology into the system have been dedicated and consistent. Its goal is to make this accessible and user-friendly in order to encourage customer interaction and consequently bring about change at scale as it is expanding in Hyderabad and building networks in Delhi and Kolkata.
They have already found clients in organisations like Flipkart, Marks and Spencer, Hindustan Unilever, Kimberly Clark, RePurpose, Coca-Cola etc.
Challenges in the Waste Management Sector
Currently, the sector is not very attractive to youngsters and entrepreneurs due to the low remuneration and capital investment. Hence finding passionate and talented individuals becomes a task for such ventures. Roshan believes that this sector is very “conflict-driven”, meaning that there is a huge disparity between the government regulations and their execution, which hinders the progress of this industry.
For instance, as a part of Municipal Solid Waste regulations (MSW 2016), bulk generators of waste are expected to manage their own waste properly and efficiently. However, not even 5% of these waste-generating communities follow these regulations and norms of safe waste disposal, and municipalities fail to keep a check on them. This, in turn, reduces demand for sustainability based solutions. These startups, in turn, do not have enough problem solvers and resources to provide solutions at scale.
The synchronisation of Profit and Impact
The for-profit venture is expanding while keeping impact at its core. In this large and upcoming sector, one does not have to be a non-profit organisation to bring change. The venture hopes to earn profits while making an impact on the country’s waste disposal structure and on the lives of thousands of waste-pickers.
Owing to the challenges posed by the pandemic on daily wage earners like waste pickers, Waste Ventures India raised funds and held a distribution drive of grocery kits covering needs for 3 months to over 6,000 waste pickers in Hyderabad.
Roshan agrees that all the efforts are worth it when he sees the happiness, gratitude, and satisfaction in the eyes of the sanitation workers they support. He urges everyone to understand the importance of waste segregation. He believes that each and every person needs to feel responsible for the waste their household or community generates and in turn, they must work towards its safe disposal and recycling.
Unless we hold ourselves accountable for our waste, promote this sector, and give rise to more social entrepreneurs, it will take a very long time for ventures like these to bring about the required change and progress at national and international levels.