If you are in the habit of making online purchases, then chances are that your home is also filled with cardboard boxes of varying sizes. Whether you place an order for a bar of soap or a book, the amount of packing material that it comes with is often mind boggling. Growing up, I remember a kabadiwala coming once a month to take away old newspapers, bottles and other material that we needed to discard. This, I don’t see happening anymore.
Hardik Shah, a resident of Ahmedabad, is an instrumentation and control engineer by qualification who after working in the information technology (IT) space for many years, decided to become an entrepreneur. In 2017, Hardik launched his cleantech startup called – Innovate Green Technologies Private Limited.
Here, customers can leverage their waste to buy recycled products.
Speaking to The Better India about how this idea came into being, Hardik says, “The idea for this business took shape when I visited Japan in 2011 for work. There I saw first-hand how they approached waste management and found workable solutions for the problems that cropped up. That trip got me thinking and I did my own research on issues pertaining to the environment. Since leveraging technology was something I was confident about, I used it to create an app.”
He continues, “I was inspired to create a system that could help people solve global warming by quantification. To understand the gravity of any situation, quantifying it makes people take it seriously. The ultimate goal in creating this clean tech company is to make environmental conservation a priority.”
Adding a number to anything makes it seem that much more real. He explains, “From being asked what your child scored in the board examination to queries about how much mileage your vehicle gives you, numbers play a very important role.”
“My mission is to bring back the circular economy,” says Hardik.
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum.
“In a linear economy, once the product is delivered, the transaction is closed. However, in a circular economy there is constant activity. In doing this our aim is to move towards zero-waste cities,” says Hardik.
Reduce Your Cost of Living by Selling Waste
“Imagine that by selling the waste you generate you can actually bring down your cost of living, while helping the environment. With every transaction you make, as part of this circular economy, the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill reduces,” he says.
The app developed by his team is currently available on Google Play store and connects consumers, waste collection partners, product delivery partners, recyclers, zero-waste product manufacturers, sellers, artisans and manufacturing brands with each other. It allows users to sell their waste and buy recycled products from the platform.
Speaking about what one can buy using waste, he says, “You can get just about anything with the waste you exchange on the app. For example, you can get a pizza by paying in waste. Not just that, ensure you save the pizza box so that the next time you want something you can use it as barter.” Having started in 2017 with recycled products, their platform has more than 80 different vendors and more than 5,000 active subscribers today.
Subscribers can buy products using waste, which include a wide range from kitchen and tableware to bathroom essentials, decorative products and even skin care products.
A rather interesting feature Hardik mentions is the ability to build a credit base by selling your waste and utilising the credit to buy a product at a later period. “This helps subscribers build their wallet and they can choose to buy whatever they want to at a later date,” he says.
Subscribers can also choose to donate the money available in their wallet towards any corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity that Recycle.Green, a subsidiary of Innovate Green Technologies Private Limited, has tied up with. “This is not just about donating for a cause, we go a step further and ensure that the subscriber is called when the CSR activity is taking place. It does not end with just an online donation.”
Subhsri, a student of DAV in Ahmedabad, is one of the many subscribers of the app and inspired by the work being done by the company decided to pitch in herself. Subhsri along with a group of friends went on a door-to-door campaign explaining to people the need to segregate waste and divert it to recycling units rather than have them go into landfills. Her efforts resulted in more than 500 kg of waste being diverted from landfills.
Understanding Environmental Saving Values (ESV)
ESV allows individuals to measure what their contribution to the environment will be. “We have a patent on ESV. So, in an entire cycle of buying a product and consuming it, we are able to tell you exactly what impact your action has had on the environment,” he says. Once the transaction is completed the subscriber is given a certificate as well.
Recycle.Green claims to have so far collectively helped in saving 279.56 trees, 56,490 kg of carbon emission, 37,59,645 litres of water pollution and 54,356 sq mt of land pollution. In total, the company has managed to divert more than 100 tonnes of waste from ending up in landfills.
As of now the pick-up service for waste is available only in Ahmedabad but the team is looking to expand to other cities very soon. Despite many challenges in the beginning, Hardik persisted and has successfully worked on his initial idea and also raised two rounds of capital from early investors.
To check their work, click here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)