This engineer brought The Kabadiwala online to solve India's waste disposal problem
Every day, we hear about the threat that careless disposal of garbage poses to the planet. With a majority of what ends up in our landfills still not segregated, the battle seems uphill with no end in sight. Oddly, enough, in India, recycling and upcycling is not a trendy new concept.
The tradition of the kabadiwala, who would come to our homes and collect our neatly segregated newspapers, glass bottles, and assorted other household disposables, is something we all grew up with. Sadly, with the increase in urban living and trendy apartment complexes, that system has all but died.
That is what Anurag Asati, an IT engineer from Bhopal, discovered when he wanted to dispose of some newspapers.
“One day I was looking for a kabadiwala to come to the house, and I couldn’t find one because I did not know anyone nearby.” He suddenly had the idea that bringing the whole process online would help not just him, but other eco-conscious people, too.
And that’s how he started The Kabadiwala, a reycling pickup service to help people sell old newspapers, metal, plastic, books, and even get paid for it. His Co-founder is Kavindra Raghuvanshi, who was his professor in college.
Putting sustainable practices into place
The Kabadiwala aims to organise the waste collection vendor network. “As of now, there is no way to track the household waste materials and its productive use for the city. So, we provide the solutions for that,” Anurag said.
The Kabadiwala follows the traditional model and pays for scrap by weight. The scrap is then segregated and given to recycling plants for a fee.
The Kabadiwala works with both B2B and B2C clients. The startup claims to collect over 100 tonnes of waste every month. Anurag and his team also educate people on how the waste is recycled and the positive impact on the environment. They are in the process of expanding their services to more cities.
Using WhatsApp to grow business
Talking about how WhatsApp helped, Anurag said, “A large number of people use WhatsApp and find it very easy to communicate. We thought we could make the booking process easy, and allow our users to send a message to our WhatsApp number for pickup requests. The account also helps us spread more awareness as WhatsApp is very user-friendly and its use is widespread”.
Anurag said about 60 percent of their pickup requests come through WhatsApp. He added that they have seen a 40 percent increase in their sales after using WhatsApp.
Talking about how WhatsApp has helped them resolve customer issues, Anurag shares a specific case when then an old lady was finding it difficult to use the Kabaadiwala App. However, because The Kabaadiwala was also available through WhatsApp, she easily made the request and is now a regular customer.
“We help so many people contribute towards the environment and create a social impact on the society using WhatsApp,” Anurag said.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)