- Vital Waste collects waste from several areas and sends for recycling
- The organisation collaborates with schools, societies and companies
- The organisation focuses on the collection of dry waste
The rising piles of waste are a major issue every Indian city faces today and Kolkata is no exception. Streets are often host to piles of garbage casually strewn over. The two landfills of the city are have nearly exhausted their capacity, and their old and unscientific design has resulted in waste management becoming one of Kolkata’s least appreciated aspects. A year back, two young businessmen, who had completed their MBA from the London School of Commerce took stock of the situation and decided to turn things around gradually. Tushar Himatsinghka quit his corporate job in 2016 and along with Prasanth Bothra, a leading industrialist from West Bengal, decided to form Vital Waste, a startup providing waste recycling solutions as well as aiming to create awareness among people with regard to waste management.
I am an environmentalist, and always concerned about the environment and especially about how poorly waste is managed in India. My research into this area yielded some very interesting statistics about the potential of solid waste as raw material. This, combined with the poor state of solid waste management in the country, suggested a very attractive business opportunity, said Tushar Himatsinghka, co-founder, Vital Waste.
The startup aims to decrease the pressure on Kolkata’s landfills and dump yards by ensuring that waste generation is reduced and generated waste is properly segregated and recycled. The organisation gets in touch with potential customers and once they receive a request for waste collection, they get in touch with vendors who are experts at waste segregation. The organisation arranges for monthly waste collection drives so that they are able to collect a large quantity of waste at once.
But for Tushar and Prasanth, the beginning was not smooth, as they spent days going from one residential society to another, and to corporate offices, trying to convince people to give them a chance to showcase their model. Though initially difficult, the duo used their years of experience in banking and retail and gradually started getting attention from some of Kolkata’s reputed housing societies and schools which gave them the opportunity to collect waste monthly and turn it over for recycling. Today, Vital Waste proudly partners with 20 residential societies in Kolkata, along with 10 schools and some well-known corporate organisations such as Spencer’s Retail, HDFC, Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CC&FC). Since its inception in 2016, the organisation has already recycled more than 100 tonnes of waste.
We ensure that a complete waste management cycle is offered to our customers, from collection of waste to its recycling. Residential societies are some of the biggest generators of waste and regularly collecting waste from them ensures that a lot of waste material is sent for recycling, which can eventually be reused, said Mr. Himatsinghka.
The organisation focuses on the collection of paper, cardboard, aluminium cans and plastic waste from the places they operate. All of the items can be recycled for reuse. Vital waste has its own fleet of garbage collection trucks and has secured deals with various recycling agents, who take on the waste and recycle it.
Apart from engaging in waste collection, the organisation also engages in waste management awareness programmes to ensure that people gradually become aware of the dangers of not segregating waste and dumping waste indiscriminately. They have chosen a few schools across Kolkata to educate young students about the significance of recycling. By arranging awareness talks and competition, the organisation tries to instill in young students the understanding of how important waste management is. Recently, the school had conducted a recycling competition in Loreto School, one of Kolkata’s most reputed girls school. Vital Waste also bought trash from the school and the money was used by the school to equip an underprivileged school in West Bengal.
Young students can help keep the environment clean by ensuring that they understand the basics of waste management. By doing so, they can begin segregation and reusing at home. The idea is to ensure that our landfills no longer end up with huge quantities of waste. Students learning about waste management today can ensure that tomorrow, says Mr. Himatsinghka.
Vital Waste plans to take forward its mantra of reducing, reusing and recycling by setting up waste management and recycling plants across India. The organisation aims to work closely with Smart Cities, manufacturing companies, schools, colleges and corporate houses to provide comprehensive waste management solutions.
Though none of West Bengal’s cities took part in the Swachh Survekshan 2017, the two landfills of Kolkata, one at Dhapa and the other one at Garden Reach are both overflowing with waste. The former, functional since the 1980s is permanently on fire, releasing harmful methane and posing environmental and health threats. An initiative such as Vital Waste ensures that gradually, waste management in the city becomes a recurring practice across societies, schools and corporate organisations, easing the pressure on Kolkata’s already exhausted landfills.