When we think about “waste” — it automatically strikes us as something useless — to be thrown away or ignored. With environmental pollution and climate change looming large, citizens are becoming more conscious, taking on a great responsibility to make waste valuable.
With the help of new-age technologies, startups are coming up with innovative ideas to manage waste or convert it into valuable resources, helping save the environment from the dire consequences of climate change.
According to Mordor Intelligence, India accounts for about 18 percent of the world’s population and 12 percent of global municipal solid waste generation. With India’s population continuously increasing, waste generation is expected to grow in the coming decades. At present, only 30 percent of the 75 percent recyclable waste is recycled.
YourStory brings a list of Indian startups working in the waste management space to recycle non-biodegradable waste into valuable resources.
Founded by Ankit Agarwal in 2017, Kanpur-based.co focuses on upcycling floral waste into cruelty-free bio alternative to animal leather called ‘Fleather’, which aims to cut down several traditional, downstream, and highly-unsustainable leather tanning processes. Fleather was awarded as PETA’s best innovation in the vegan world.
The startup also transforms tons of discarded flowers into charcoal-free incense sticks.
In October 2021, the startup raised undisclosed funding from actor and entrepreneur Alia Bhatt to expand its global footprints and boost the pace of R&D.
“Phool.co is a sustainable solution to the monumental temple-waste problem in India. Through our efforts, we aim to build natural alternatives to synthetic chemical-based products by using deep tech and research. We are a natural incense brand taking a digital-first approach and have a first-mover advantage as bio-leathers are barely available in India,” said Ankit in a conversation with YourStory.
Rupam Choudhury, Mousum Talukdar, and David Pratim Gogoi foundedin 2018. The startup manufactures eco-friendly, earthquake-resistant, and cost-effective plastic embedded lightweight bricks.
Zerund aims to replace the red bricks with patent-pending lightweight bricks that use waste plastic as raw materials. It claims to be around 15 percent more cost-effective and sustainable than the red bricks, Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks, and normal bricks.
Zerund Co-founders L:R – Rupam Choudhury, David Gogoi, Mousum Talukdar
In February 2022, the startup raised an undisclosed pre-Series A round from NEDFi Venture Capital to set up a new manufacturing facility with five times the capacity of its current centre in Pathsala, Assam.
Founded in 2019 by Aditya Kabra, Pune-basedis developing sustainable materials to replace plastics. It offers tailor-made lightweight bioplastic compounds and 100 percent biodegradable, water-soluble plastics for serial production with industrial injection moulding.
“India produces 27,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily, of which only 9 percent is recycled while the rest is either landfilled or burned. Additionally, 350 million tonnes of surplus biomass waste is burned across the nation every year,” said Aditya.
The startup gathers and upcycles biomass waste into compostable bioplastics and composites to use as a sustainable alternative to oil-based, non-biodegradable single-use plastics.
Founded in 2019 by Ankita Alok Bagaria and Abhi Gawri, Bengaluru-based agri-biotech startupis engaged in the farming of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Larvae that converts food waste to produce premium animal feed and pet food.
It creates a “protein-rich diet” for fisheries and poultry farms by “farming insects to feed them using food waste, which currently lands in landfills”.
Loopworm’s insect protein solves this problem and offers the right alternative protein source for pets, fish, shrimps, chicken, and pigs.
The startup aims to produce sustainable feed and create a sustainable loop. To date, Loopworm has secured grants worth Rs 1 crore from the Centre and Karnataka governments, of which Rs 50 lakh has reached the startup so far.
Founded by Sanjay Chauhan and Ruby Khan in 2019, New Delhi-based pre-consumer textile waste management MuddleArt provides the textile industry with a one-stop-solution for solid waste management.
MuddleArt has constructed backwards and forward linkages to streamline the flow of pre-consumer textile waste to create recyclable material and upcycled products.
“We are looking to offer a systematic approach to dispose and manage pre-consumer textile waste in India through our structured interventions and an in-house framework for sorting processes that make textile waste recyclable,” Ruby said.
“This not only prevents a major chunk of the textile waste from ending up in the landfills but also creates a value chain for pre-consumer textile waste,” she said in an earlier conversation with YourStory.