A tech solution to the waste problem
EnCashea is a company that leverages technology to find everyday solutions to the problem of waste management. We explore with its co-founder if the concept has a resonance with the traditional Indian outlook towards recycling. Leveraging the existing kabadiwala (waste/scrap collector) network to build a scalable and socially-responsible enterprise sounds like a great idea. However, from our initial experience in trying to implement such a model, we realised that maintaining a high service quality isn′t possible with such a model. Other problems such as price standardisation, faulty weighing, lack of professionalism cannot be solved by simply using the existing network. So while our concept has its roots in the Indian kabadiwala network, it needs to be re-modelled to use newer technologies and measure-up to the modern standards of service quality.
Interestingly, some kabadiwalas have started using our services for both buying and selling to us. Our endeavour is try and bring more players at different levels, in our network and introduce to them, the benefits of using internet and other technologies. As a private limited, Encashea has a strong social impact associated with our work and we have a great commitment to sustainability. Additionally, for anyone who wishes to donate their stuff, we have tied up with ′Teach for India′ where we channelise all the proceeds of such donations. We have witnessed steady rise in the number of bookings from individuals and businesses. The non-profit initiatives of EnCashea have also been growing steadily. A lot more efforts are being put in using tech to solve the problems of waste management in general, and of managing recyclable scrap, in particular. Waste management is still plagued by the same problems of the "license raj" era. In recent times, government has been more active in defining clear regulations and at the same time, providing better environment for private players like us, to come up with tech-based solutions. There is a lot of scope for internet-based solutions as well as other technologies like smart bins, home composters, alternate use of discarded materials like plastics for building roads or conversion to fuel. Use of internet is a defining factor in turning such one-man enterprises into highly scalable organisations and organise this highly fragmented industry. The Swachh Bharat Abiyan has created a lot of awareness among citizens and stirred up a number of good samaritans to spread the message to others. There has also been a number of good initiatives by the local authorities in Bengaluru and some much-needed regulations that have persuaded people to start managing their own waste better. I feel India still has a long way to go in terms of catching up with the rest of the world. While recycle rates are over 60 per cent in countries like Germany (about 80 per cent for paper) and about 35 per cent in Europe, they are way below in India. We end up dumping a lot of our waste in landfills or oceans and it′s not sustainable. While European nations, Japan and Australia are putting a high emphasis on recycling, large corporations in US have been using technology to manage their huge quantities of scrap and diverting those to proper channels. Rahul Jaiswal is the co-founder and CEO of EnCashea, which provides scrap collection and recycling services for individuals and institutions of all sizes. He described himself as a tech enthusiast with a passion for building solutions at the convergence of different technologies - software, hardware and design and in the application of technology to solve common, everyday problems.