‘Have you ever fancied the idea of earning money from recycling? Sounds good? It gets even better’ – calls out an ad for Khalibottle, a Bengaluru-based startup, that is on a spree of converting trash to cash.
It does it through the simple solution of recycling. This initiative has created a win-win situation for both customers who sell their trash and the recycling plants. However, the biggest winner is Bengaluru, that has found a novel way to tackle its mounting waste management problem.
The rollercoaster beginning
Founder Naveen Mariyan is a man who thrives on challenges and is undeterred by uncertainties. He started his career in the city as a chef in the hotel industry. His first independent venture Plate Up, started in 2013, was in the same space and provided catering services for corporate events.
When Plate Up sunk in 2015, Naveen was already deeply involved in market research and vendor capturing for Project Reuse (now Khalibottle). He briefly worked at Zomato, Bengaluru before finally taking the plunge in December 2016 to start up Khalibottle with five friends at five different locations. He tells YourStory,
“Currently, waste management is an unorganised segment in India. Khalibottle wants to make use of this opportunity, organise this segment with the use of technology, and create awareness among people to recycle and stop recyclable waste ending up in landfills. There is also a lot of scope for creation of employment. ”
“Approximately 5,000 tonnes of waste is generated in Bengaluru, 10 percent like paper, cardboard, glass, metal, plastic, and electronics is dry waste that can be recycled. This is the space where we work in,” Naveen adds.
The recycle story
Khalibottle has created an online platform where customers - individuals or corporates, can register for their waste to be collected for recycling.
Once a request is raised for waste collection through a phone call or on their website, a support team calls the customer and confirms the request. A pickup team arrives at their doorstep with a digital weighing scale and professional dress code, picks the trash and pays the customer as per the weight, through cash, coupons or the option to donate for a cause. The trash collected is segregated and packed according to predefined categories such as soft plastic, pet bottles, glass, cardboard materials, and metal. Finally, the stock is sent to authorised recycling plants around Bangalore, Mysuru, and Hyderabad through road or railways for recycling.
Currently Khalibottle isoperates from two warehouses in North Bengaluru and collects waste from locations including Kammanahalli, Benson Town, Kalyan Nagar, Cox Town, Ramamurthy Nagar, HRBR Layout, Kasturi Nagar, Hedge Nagar, and Banaswadi. They will soon begin operations in Indiranagar, BTM Layout, JP Nagar, and HSR Layout.
“We have partnered with FreshMenu, Cartisan and Housejoy for coupons and Just Dial for lead sharing. We have an exclusive collaboration with Urdoorstep to give customers more platforms/options to get recycling services at their doorstep. We are working to onboard popular ecommerce players in the market to be our recycling partners. We work on a recurring basis with 18 restaurants and pubs, three cycle companies, 34 apartment communities and 12 service apartments as B2B partners.”
The road less travelled
Currently the team consists of 15 employees, that includes a tech team of two, a pickup team with six members and two drivers, a waste segregation team and a support team. Naveen speaks positively about expanding his team and spreading operations across more areas of Bengaluru.
“Until date, our team has collected and recycled 119 tonnes of trash in the city alone. We have a registered customer base of 4256, of which 73 percent are regular customers. We have achieved an average growth rate of 22 percent on month-on-month registrations,” says Naveen.
“Like most startups Khalibottle is in red on the revenue graph, but things are slowly starting to look positive. We expect to break even by June,” he adds.
While waste management through recycling is his top goal, Naveen is also exploring the option of providing employment to physically and socially challenged persons. He wishes to open multiple, offline outlets with cash-on-drop facilities and a centralised billing process. These outlets will employ college dropouts, children of single parents and people with disabilities. He also plans to collaborate with kabadiwallas who can provide services such as bulk pickups from customers and eventually take a share in the company’s profits.
“Khalibottle’s journey is like travelling in the desert looking for water, and finally stumbling across cool and clear water from a spring,” he says, beamimg with pride.
(This story is part of the #KindnessMatters series, a partnership between YourStory and UNESCO MGIEP)