Meet these Kolkata-based entrepreneurs who have given the Swachh Bharat campaign a whole new dimension by making people in the city more conscious about their surroundings.
Kolkata is known as the cultural capital of India. The city has a long artistic and literary heritage. It is home to theatre, dance, films, as well as Rabindra Sangeet. But this beautiful city has a huge problem too. It is considered to be one of the dirtiest metros in the country. Kolkata has a burgeoning population of 14 million people.
Like every growing city in the country, it too has a garbage problem.
Photo source: Flickr/Asier
According to studies, only 10% of the city’s waste is recycled. This adds to the municipality’s woes of waste disposal.
Joy Pansari, a recent engineering graduate, wanted to do something to reduce the problem of garbage disposal in the city. Waste management was an area he was interested in. Seeking inspiration from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Joy and his friends Ankit Agarwal and Saurav Mundra decided to do something to make Kolkata cleaner.
They started Green Clean Media Works in 2014. For a few months, the team studied various issues related to garbage and waste management. In 2015, they came up with the idea of installing free dustbins to prevent people from littering. These dustbins display advertisements of Kolkata-based companies.
“With this initiative, we have succeeded in creating an innovative, revenue generating business model. ADBINS, as we call it, provides an eco-friendly and economical advertising space for our clients,” says Ankit.
Joy, an automobile engineer, and Ankit, a chartered accountant, feel they have undertaken an active role in building a more sustainable environment with this one-of-a-kind initiative.
Ankit, who used to work with Ernst & Young, quit his job to join Joy in his mission.
Green Clean Media Works caters to banks, hotel chains, film production houses, fashion stores, and online learning portals by advertising their products on these dustbins.
The company currently has 70 dustbins installed in various residential complexes around the city.
By the end of February, they hope to have at least 100 dustbins in the city.
“I was on my evening walk when I suddenly noticed this bright yellow dustbin near the parking area in my society. Since it’s been set up, I’ve noticed that the area has gotten cleaner and fewer people throw stuff on the pathway,” says Ipsita Chakraborty.
The team has been trying to experiment with the ADBINS and make them more interactive. In some areas, they have installed ADBINS that also serve as weighing machines. These are a huge hit among the residents.
In other places, Joy and Ankit have set up dustbins that have backlit ads.
“The colour of the dustbins is inspired from the Aamir Khan movie PK. In the movie, he says yellow colour can be seen from a great distance. This is how we decided to go with this colour, in order to attract more people towards the dustbins,” says Joy.
To get more people to use the dustbins, Joy and Ankit came up with the idea of setting up wifi-enabled ADBINS in schools, colleges, metro stations, movie theatres, and other entertainment arenas.
A test run is already in place in an apartment building.
“Once the user puts in the trash, the ADBIN generates a one-time password. The user can feed it into his or her phone and use WiFi for an hour,” says Joy.
Green Clean Media Works has employed a small team to look after cleanliness in every place where the dustbin is installed.
The organisation doesn’t practise segregation as of now. But, Ankit and Joy plan to have separate dustbins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste soon.
The team is also developing an app that people can use to find these dustbins in the city.
The founders pooled their resources to buy dustbins and place the ads on them when the company started. Now, they are able to cover costs with the revenue generated from advertising. However, the team is hopeful that the government will fund the venture through the Startup India Standup India initiative.
“Our vision is to create a socially responsible business and promote forms of green advertising across India by bridging the gap between social and economic objectives,” says Ankit.
In the future, the company would like to expand to other public places in the city as well.
“Till now, we feel like we have had a trial run. But we did well and I think we will be successful in making people become more responsible for their trash. Slowly, we would like to get into full-fledged waste management. For now, we are happy taking these baby steps,” says Joy.
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