EDITIONS
waste management

A Kolkata-based startup is helping the city recycle its trash and become landfill-free

R Saritha
16th May 2017
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Vital waste takes care of complete waste management chain from the collection of recyclable waste to helping people convert it into a usable product.

“Working in a hectic environment, I personally couldn’t find the time to segregate the trash at home and give it to somebody for recycling. In our apartment, kabaadiwalas were not allowed for security reasons. The question struck me, what to do with the trash piling up in a corner?” says, 34-year old founder of Vital Waste Tushar Himatsinghka.

Vital Waste collection bins at a school

In May 2016 Tushar, and Prashanth Bothra, who did their MBA together at London School of Commerce, decided to quit their lucrative corporate jobs and founded ‘Vital Waste’ to help the city of joy, Kolkata recycle their trash.

We live in a disposable society, where we find it easier to throw away things rather than repurpose them. According to a report released in 2015 by Central Pollution Control Board of India, on an average, 0.14 million tons of garbage is produced in a day across the country.

A huge amount of this trash ends up in landfills increasing the risks of environmental hazards. Several daily objects such as aluminum cans, glass and pet containers, paper, cardboard can be recycled multiple times into usable products. It can also minimise the amount of trash ending up in landfills. The global rise in atmospheric temperature and increase in a number of greenhouse gases can be attributed to our lack of efficiency in waste management.

Vital Waste provides recycling solutions to residential communities, schools and corporate offices in Kolkata. The startup takes care of complete waste management chain with a seamless connection right from waste producers to the recycled material users. This is the founders' step towards the aim of generating zero waste to landfills.

Tushar has a decade-long stint in banking, insurance, real estate and logistics services, while Prashant has an equally rich experience of 19 years in retail service and manufacturing industries. The organisation has already helped recycle 50 tons of waste, and caters to 10 schools, 20,000 societies, and corporate giants such as Spencer’s retail, Calcutta Cricket and Football Club, Iron Mountain, HDFC home loans and few others.

Awareness and the mindset being the biggest hurdles

After researching for a brief period when the organization approached the housing societies and corporates the biggest challenge they faced was the mindset and their approach to segregation and recycling of waste.

“To make anybody understand that recycling is a necessity was the biggest road block initially. Making people aware and changing the mindset was a challenging task,” says Tushar.

Along with collection and recycling, the organization has been working to create awareness on 3 Rs: Recycle, Reuse and Reduce. Along with it, they provide ‘waste audit report' to organisations that are partnered with them. This report gives them the accurate figures of the amount of waste recycled. This audit helps organisations set a target to be beaten and helps recycle more trash over the time.

The race for recycling

Recently, the organisation conducted recycling competition at Loreto School in Calcutta.

Tushar Himatsinghka

Vital Waste bought the trash from the school. The school, in turn, is using the money earned to develop another underprivileged school in a remote village in West Bengal.

Currently, the startup is bootstrapped and continues to pursue the founder's dream of expanding to the other cities to see India with zero landfills.

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