New Delhi: “We Indians never throw even a one rupee coin but toss plastic water bottles, which can actually fetch us money, in bins without giving any thought to it. Why? Because we don’t know ‘waste’ and how it can be converted into wealth, hence we end up putting everything in a dustbin which makes its way to the landfills”, says 27-year-old Anurag Asati from Bhopal, while speaking to NDTV. Anurag founded ‘The Kabadiwala’, an online scrap dealing service in Madhya Pradesh’s capital city Bhopal in 2013.
The Kabadiwala works in the waste management sector and buys waste just like local scrap dealers from the doorstep in favour of money. What differentiates The Kabadiwala from traditional scrap dealers is the internet.
Unlike local scrap dealers, The Kabadiwala takes booking through its website and mobile application currently available for Android. Explaining the process of selling waste to The Kabadiwala, Anurag says,
An individual willing to sell their household waste like newspaper, magazines, iron, plastic, metal, copper, including e-waste, among others, can simply raise a request in three easy steps. A user has to share his/her number, address and schedule a pick-up that is the date and time. Once the request has been raised, our pick-up vehicle will reach the destination as per the schedule, collect waste and pay according to the weight.
To ensure transparency, innovators have put up a price list on their website, which can be accessed by anyone. Also, the person coming to pick-up waste, carries an electronic weighing scale which is said to be more transparent and accurate than traditional weighing scale.
The collected waste then goes to the warehouse for segregation, even the plastic gets segregated further into soft and hard plastic. From there, this segregated waste goes to the respective recycling centres.
To promote waste management, The Kabadiwala in December 2015 introduced a feature called ‘my contribution’ that details out the contribution made by an individual in protecting the environment. Explaining the same, Anurag says,
We have developed an algorithm which calculates the impact based on the waste sold and sends it to the user. It lists the number of trees guarded from being chopped, the amount of energy, water and oil saved and land space saved by selling waste, since the algorithm was developed in 2015.
What started from Bhopal has reached Indore, Raipur and Aurangabad. The Kabadiwala has helped over 40,000 people manage their waste and in turn reduce their carbon footprints. Together they have saved 10,243 trees, 565,536 Kwh of energy, 13.8 crore litres (13,892,652) of water and 2.5 lakh litres (253,278) of oil. On an average, the team collects 100 tonnes of waste every month.
Recalling the Eureka moment that gave birth to the startup, Anurag says,
In 2013, when I was in the last year of my engineering, I was struggling to sell some newspapers. I couldn’t manage to find even one scrap dealer in my area and that is when I thought how convenient it would be if there was an app or website or a number through which I could book a scrap dealer. Say, I am at work and get time only on weekends, so there should be someone who can come on a weekend to pick up the waste.
Someone has rightly said, necessity is the mother of invention. Anurag’s need to sell newspaper made him research about the waste management sector in India and gave birth to The Kabadiwala, with the help of his professor cum mentor Kavindra Raghuwanshi.
This journey of six years hasn’t been a cakewalk. We started our company in 2013 but for a good one and a half years, we faced major challenges in terms of understanding the waste, making people understand the varied kinds of waste, collection and supply of the waste from consumers to recyclers, establishing prices, among other issues. We went door-to-door to create awareness among people, recalls Anurag.
Having overcome their fair share of challenges, The Kabadiwala is now helping citizens manage their waste, local scrap dealers get a steady income, as well as environment by reducing the waste load on landfills. The startup recently received an investment of Rs. 3 crore and plans to expand in 20 cities including Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Nagpur, in the coming year.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.