It took three days, 100 firemen, 12 fire engines and eight tankers to douse the flames that engulfed Deonar — Mumbai’s largest garbage dump — in January last year. The city’s municipal body received a rap on the knuckles for its inaction along with an order to halt new constructions in the city till it increases its waste treatment capacity. While the civic administration is yet to move in that direction, one city dweller has taken up the environmental cause and turned it into an enterprise.
Divya Ravichandran devised a waste management solution and deployed it an individual level, then began work as a consultant in the field post which she started Skrap in March 2017. The start-up that currently operates in and around Mumbai works with multiple stakeholders to assist companies make smart waste management decisions. “There is a need for change in perception – garbage isn’t waste, it is a valuable resource,” says Ravichandran.
For a city that generates 9,500 metric tonne of waste everyday, it has a fair amount of firms that have created products and services to reduce and manage waste. However, there are few who focus on events and offices, points out Ravichandran. “Events are highly unstructured, and it is difficult to sensitise a huge crowd. However, I prefer to focus on this category since it generates a lot of waste and has a large-scale impact. There are barely any players who provide end-to-end solutions in this space,” she adds.
Ravichandran landed her first big client in the events space with NH7 Weekender Pune, organised by the media and entertainment company, Only Much Louder (OML). For such events, she collaborates with NGOs and other local waste management organisations such as Mukti Sangathan, Adar Poonawalla Clean City etc. to assist with the groundwork. She says, “They are experts in the field of waste segregation, so it is a learning experience for me. The waste that is collected, we give it to them for free. NH7 Weekender was her first major break, where 81% of waste generated was recycled or reused.
And the organisers for the music festival ended up hiring Skrap for its workplace waste management as well. The start-up began with a waste audit at OML’s Mumbai office to figure out the amount and kind of trash disposed. This resulted in a sharp fall in waste generation from 25-30 kg a day to 2-3 kg now. The approach to waste management varies for each office. “Our main focus is behavioural change, reduction of waste follows automatically,” she explains. The entire process takes about six months, with regular follow-ups.
Ravichandran charges a fee that depends on the size and duration of the event/office, but it approximately ranges from Rs.30,000 to Rs.500,000. Started with an initial investment of Rs.300,000, she is working towards scaling up her enterprise by joining forces with other government organisations and NGOs. And she currently calls upon the forces of social media and word-of-mouth publicity to spread the word. A strong believer in the concept “your trash, is your responsibility’, Ravichandran plans to scrap the prevalent apathy for an environmental cause by expanding the reach of her social enterprise.