From garbage to gold, this waste management startup is eyeing a Rs 10-cr turnover by 2016


The idea of GEM Enviro Management had its origin in Ganesha Ecosphere Limited (one of the largest PET recycling companies in India), where the founding team Dinesh Parikh, Sachin Sharma, and Aditya Parikh became acquainted with each other. It was during their stint at Ganesha the trio realised the importance of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling and its environmental impact.

GEM Enviro Management Team

The urban households of India all together generate over 62 million tonnes of garbage in a year, out of which a whopping 85 percent is recyclable.

The trio apparently whiffed the scope of business opportunity and determined to augment the existing industry practices with a farsighted plan, equipped with better technology. GEM Enviro Management was the outcome of that very vision.

Incorporated in 2013, GEM collects pre- and post-consumer packaging waste from factories, offices, hotels, motels, and institutes. The wasted collected is then recycled into products such as T-shirts, caps, and bags.

The products are sold under its brand called ‘Being Responsible’. As part of the brand campaign, the platform organises various programmes related to environmental sustainability and the importance of recycling in corporates, universities, and institutes.

Its client base includes biggies like Bisleri, Pepsi, Cipla, IDFC Bank, Sun Pharma, and Google.

Starting up

The platform raised its seed capital from family and friends. For the co-founders, starting up looked very tranquil, but eventually, the deeper involvement in the business operation and implementation posed multiple challenges.

“We had a comprehensive and perceptive plan in place, but to keep rolling the wheel uphill we needed more hands. Hiring people with the right aptitude and shared vision and enthusiasm was one the toughest challenges we faced in our initial days,” says 40-year-old Sachin, CEO of GEM Enviro Management.

Coca-Cola was GEM’s first client. According to Sachin, it took them one year to finalise the deal, followed by multiple meetings and discussions with the sustainability team on various proposals.

What does ‘Being Responsible’ brand offer?

The brand offers a complete sustainable range of sportswear, accessories, home furnishing and soft toys. Presently, GEM sells the recycled apparels to corporates in the form of corporate gifts. ‘Being Responsible’ plans on targeting export companies in the premium segment in the next two years.

To collect materials for recycling, GEM plans to set up 100 vending machines in Gurgaon by the next eight months. It has already set up two machines in Sector 43 and Sector 14 in Gurgaon. Sachin said that the concept of vending machine is still in the pilot stage and in future they will generate revenue by placing advertisements in vending machines.

Sachin claims that on an average, every household disposes about 20 bottles a month. Collectively, a society with 500 flats will generate 10,000 bottles. Thus, by using the reverse vending machines consumers can win rewards in the form of freebies and other incentives.

GEM fundamentally generates revenue from the sale of packaging scrap to recyclers and sale of recycled merchandise to corporate entities. The platform has tied up with Ganesh Ecosphere, where it sells the PET waste and gains a certain percentage of margin. After Ganesh Ecosphere churns out fibre from the PET waste, GEM buys the fibre and manufactures T-shirts, caps, and bags. The products range between Rs 250 and Rs 700.

Waste management market

According to business research organisation NOVONOUS, the waste management market is expected to be worth $13.62 billion by 2025. Indian municipal solid waste (MSW) management market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.14 percent by 2025, while e-waste management market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.03 percent during the same period.

A handful of startups seemed to have sensed the market opportunity. The players include The Kabadiwala, Scrapos, We-Convert, Kachrapatti, Kachre Ka Dabba and Pom Pom. With the proliferation of waste management startups in India, the domestic industry is estimated to grow over $1 billion by 2020.

Investors are also betting high on the growth of this industry. Bengaluru-based Saahas Waste Management raised an undisclosed amount from Indian Angel Network (IAN) and Upaya Social Ventures. Delhi-based Karma Recycling has received fund from Infuse Ventures and Low Carbon Enterprise Fund.

With presence in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the startup has a team of 25 people. Currently, GEM’s client base consists of Fortune 500 companies and is planning to rope in more number of companies in the FMCG, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals sector.

GEM earned Rs 6 crore turnover last year and is expecting to earn Rs 10 crore in the next six months.

Website: GEM Enviro Management 


Updates from around the world