The firms ensure scrap is recycled and not sent to landfills, removing middlemen from the process, which results in better value realisation for all stakeholders.
Rapidue Technologies launched its UZED app in Hyderabad and Pune in January 2017. It picks up scrap from 350-400 homes daily in these cities. “We collect plastics, paper and e-waste. The idea is to inculcate the habit of responsible disposal of waste. To incentivise customers, we offer points against waste handed over and they can be used to shop from our corporate partners,” said the company’s director, Abhay Deshpande.
In June this year, Hyderabad-based Rapidue raised $2 million from Triton Investment Advisors, the family office of Ajay Parekh, who is the director of Pidilite Industries, Vijay Acharya, former MD of Bank of Singapore, and others. Recently, it launched services in Bengaluru and now plans to enter Mumbai and Delhi.
The new approach is benefiting not just households but also scrap collectors, whose earnings have improved. Rahul Nainani, cofounder of Mumbai-based RaddiConnect, said over 150 raddiwalas registered on the platform were seeing higher incomes because of standardised rates, which have taken haggling out of the equation.
Perhaps the most important change is that collectors are treated with respect by households. RaddiConnect, which began operations in 2015, fetches scrap from nearly 600 homes in Mumbai every month. “On average, a household generates Rs 100-150 worth of scrap or waste per month,” Nainani said.
For handing over their refuse, the company offers customers a donation receipt as the monetary value of discards is passed on to an NGO.
Hyderabad-based ScrapQ follows the traditional cashfor-scrap model. “Homemakers want instant gratification,” said the firm’s chief operating officer, Venkat.
The startup, which fetches discards from 7,000 homes in Hyderabad every month, has partnered with Paytm and is close to tying up with T Wallet, the Telangana government’s digital wallet, to transfer money to customers.
According to a report by the Swachh Bharat Mission, urban India generates 1.45 lakh tonnes per day of municipal solid waste, of which only 23% is processed or treated. The bulk of it, 72%, is landfilled.
While the B2C category is ticking along nicely in metros, startups are betting big on B2B for revenues. On the challenges the sector faces, Ashish Malayil, co-founder of Bengalurubased Citizengage, said the absence of a tech platform connecting various stakeholders and lack of policy support were main concerns.
“Raising funds is also an uphill task as the waste management sector is still evolving in India and investors are apprehensive about business models,” said Wilma Rodrigues, founder of Bengaluru-based Saahas Zero Waste.
According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI), the opportunity for the circular economy, the system of resource utilisation through reuse and recycling, in India will be worth $500 billion by 2030. More entrepreneurs are entering this space, which has traditionally faced transparency issues, a demand-supply mismatch, and lack of source segregation. Nearly 95% of recycling is done by the informal market.