How a man is providing "Ecowrap" to our discarded waste

December 16th , 2020 | Priksha Sharma

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The idea about segregation and potential of recycling

Angraj belongs to a small village situated in the 'Thar' desert of Rajasthan (India). Despite having no education infrastructure, he completed his basic education by 15 km of walking every day. He moved to New Delhi in 2011 for higher studies. Coming from a conservative family of a small village of Rajasthan where even water was scarce, he knew the utmost value of every natural resource. Angraj Swami, never complaint but always made things better which bothered him. During the college days, visits to Murthal (an eating spot on the outskirts of Delhi) were frequent for him and his friends. Next to this spot was a dumping site for the waste, which he noticed carefully on every visit.

The thing which bothered him was the treatment of waste, he quotes, Putting soil on garbage is like pouring water on your mistakes”. The waste we produce everyday goes in total misuse by the process of landfills. Inspite of having modern technologies like waste-to-energy, Plasphalt, Pyrolysis we could not find the solution of illegal dumping of post consumed products (Which you called Solid waste). He started wondering and researching about the issue, and finally reached a conclusion that if people themselves start segregation at homes, a lot of waste which has a potential of being recycled and reuse can be saved. none of the modern technology can help in the treatment of mixed or landfill kind of waste. The idea of ECOWRAP was born by Angraj. He build his team with 3 more people.

Education and Project "Muskaan"

He knew waste segregation was root cause of the problem and people do not care about problems until they are their own. So, he came up with a business model, solely based on waste segregation at source and making this sector financially viable by leveraging right technology & aggregating all stakeholders. To promote waste segregation at source they provide Infrastructure like Smart Dustbins, Tech intervention and training to people. They made this model financial viable by adding extra buffer of up-cycled & incentivise waste generators for segregation at source. They came up the idea of waste monetization scheme, paying for inorganic waste. So, you are offered Rs. 11 for a kg of paper, Rs. 10 for plastic and Rs. 4 for glass waste.

The metal waste including aluminium foil is taken at Rs. 40 per kg whereas the cans of beer and soft drinks at Rs. 60 per kg. Old tyres are also collected from multiple shops in the city.

These collectables are then taken further for the process of up-cycling and recycling & then revenue is generated . Though the company has tie-ups with others to recycle paper, plastic and metal waste, glass and tyres are taken under by the company itself for up-cycling. Thereafter, these materials are taken to women from underprivileged section at the company’s plant. All the women are trained, who up-cycle the glass bottles to decorative lamps and tyres are turned into chairs and sofas.

The company has taken the responsibility to educate them and help them sell their finished products online. Hence, the project is called Muskaan”, aimed at making these women self-sustained and happy always. With a hardworking team and the belief to bring a change, the company has been able to pull off clients’ like OYO, Barbeque Nation, Bikanerwala and among the top and many others from Jaipur.

Challenge faced during tough times

Funding for a startup stays a big challenge for all, and so was it for Angraj and his team. They decided to go for bootstrapping, wherein investing their personal savings. They also kept participating in various national level startup competitions, winning some of them, only to invest the prize money back in their business. Also, for social ventures, there are not enough investors. The team still struggles to find investors for their venture. The co-founders decided not to take any profits and rather to let it stay in business in order to have better growth in the company functioning.

The biggest blow came to the company when COVID-19 hit Indian origin. All our working functionalities were put on hold for 3 months and there was no revenue generation. But we did not let this affect our initiative and mission, during the lockdown period we shifted all our focus to Project Muskaan. We trained more women, from more areas. After the lockdown was lifted and life started to come back in action, we re-shifted our focus to business but it was not easy. We had to start from zero; it was a new beginning all over again.

Better financial viability of model

They improved the financial viability of this model as they collect the source segregated high quality recyclables. They added extra buffer of Up-cycled products. Ecowrap has eliminated labour intensive task of segregation post collection & cut down waste handling cost with help of route optimisation technology. In terms of scalability, they kept this model asset light buy outsourcing Segregation, recycling, up-cycling process. Team has scalable go-to market strategy by collaborating with aggregators platforms like OYO, Zostal, Swiggy, etc. They are also planning to outsource our logistics.

Ecowrap is working with 300 bulk waste generators and generating revenue. In the last 2 year they have prevented around 5000 metric ton of solid waste going into landfills. To make up-cycled products out of waste material Ecowrap have trained 124 women from underprivileged section of the society and formed 15 SHGs. Every woman is earning INR 6-8 thousand per month.

A message to all those who are planning to start a social venture,

“Treat your idea like your own baby. Give it time for at least three

years to prove its worth to you. Never ever lose hope; there will be challenges but always try to overcome them.”

The author of the story is Prikhsa Sharma, and you can reach out to them at  angraj@ecowrap.in

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