India generates about 42 million tons of solid waste every year which is approximately 1.15 lakh metric tons of waste generated every day. Although these numbers are not the worst on the global scale, it is still high up in the list of concerns for the country.
The immense population density and the increased industrial activity are a few of the reasons for the high amounts of both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes. Currently only 30% of the 75% recyclable waste is being recycled. This gives the Indian waste management industry a huge potential to be tapped into.
One such company venturing into the waste management and circular economy industry in India is Without. In 2020, Anish Malpani set up Without in Pune with the aim of increasing the value of waste and helping waste pickers. The company makes sunglasses out of recycled chips packets which contain multi-layered packaging.
Malpani, founder and CEO of the company told Entrackr, “We chose MLP because when we were doing research on the waste space, we found that it was the least recycled plastic waste and it’s the hardest to recycle.”
The first few years of the company were spent on developing a technology that extracts material from MLP to convert it into high quality materials to make different products. MLP has a lot of materials mixed into it, making it a difficult material to work on. The process starts by first separating these layers and then extracting the materials out of it making it more recyclable. It is then broken down and restructured into sunglasses.
The product currently available is of a single style and single color. Apart from this, the company also sells coasters.
The company currently works with 6 individual waste pickers from whom the waste is collected. Hiring waste pickers and including them into the supply chain helps increase their income, Malpani said. This structure helps increase their income 3X which is an added income for them, he added. Maintaining a socially inclusive environment, 10% of the company’s sales go towards the education of children on waste pickers.
Currently selling only in batches of 500s, the company in its beta round has sold around 1000 sunglasses in the first month of sales with the revenue clocking in at Rs 12 lakh. Having opened sales only within the country, a majority of the orders are seen from Bangalore, Bombay, and Delhi. The bootstrapped company claims most of its users to be Gen Z ranging from 25–35-year-olds.
Moving towards being B2B and B2C is one of the main aims for the waste management company. Licensing the technology created and selling products to white labels and corporate gifting are other growth plans while keeping various streams of revenue open. The company is currently in conversations for opening a fundraising round.
Without aims to work on different styles of glasses along with starting work on premium furniture and lamps. Stretching the scale of the lab to a commercial pilot plant is of immediate importance to the company.