When I started to search for innovative approaches to waste management, one of the first companies I met in India was Binbag. Back in December 2014, the two-month-old startup was incubated at NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), IIM Bangalore. Recently, it was on BBC! You can watch a relevant video here.
When recently I asked for contributions to my blog, I was really happy when I received an email from Achitra Borgohain, Founder & CEO of Binbag. As you can understand, today I am happy to host Achitra’s post regarding Binbag. Enjoy it.
“January, 2016. Mumbai largest landfill, and one of Asia’s largest, caught fire. The layer of smoke was so thick and toxic that for almost four days over 70 schools remained closed and Mumbai’s air quality index was recorded at 341 (poorest ever in the city). Deonar, spread across more than 132 acres, receives 3,700 metric tons of trash (one-third of Mumbai’s) every day rising up to 30 meters high.
Urban India is in the edge of a garbage crisis. In 2011 (the last data available), it was estimated that urban cities in India generated about 69 million tons of MSW. And close to 90% of it is landfilled or burned in open air. In a case of business as usual, it would require an area larger than the size of Delhi (1,484 sq. km) for landfilling.
India is the fifth largest generator of e-waste with 1.7 million tons. However, since most of the collection and recycling is happening in the informal sectors, the formal e-waste recyclers today in India are facing capacity utilization issues. What is the solution?
To start with, an efficient distribution network that eliminates layers of middlemen and prevents leakage.
Companies like Binbag in Bangalore (India) are working towards addressing this problem, of filling in the gap between waste generators and processors. By managing collection to transportation to recycling through a verified network of recyclers, the company provides end-to-end service for small, medium business and other bulk generators.
Started in October 2014, Binbag’s initial operations was door-to-door waste collection by the founder in his personal car. Since then, it has helped divert more than 15 tons of e-waste and paper, plastic and other MSW in the last 18 months. According to the founder, Achitra Borgohain, the company’s purpose is to create a sustainable and resource-aware society, and by bringing about a systemic change.
“We understand the need to involve all actors in the chain – including the informal waste pickers”, said Achitra. The startup has experimented connecting waste pickers in a particular locality to the consumers through a mobile app that provides instant notification when a consumer wants to dispose their wastes. This experiment was noticed by BBC, which called Binbag ‘Uber for recycling’.
While most municipalities in India are spending large sums of money in addressing the waste problem, most of it is spent towards hauling waste to landfills. It is estimated that top 15 Indian cities spend $2 billion every year to send waste to landfills, and in the process losing $8 billion worth of recyclables that could be a source of secondary raw material.
“That’s a lot of resource being wasted, and we’re committed to work towards reducing that as much as possible”, concluded Achitra.
Achitra Borgohain, Founder & CEO