H&M Foundation and Social Alpha commit $2M for innovation in waste management
Sweden-based H&M Foundation and Social Alpha have launched ‘Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management’, a nationwide challenge to find disruptive innovations in waste management and improve the livelihoods of waste pickers.
Through this challenge, H&M Foundation and Social Alpha aim to create an enabling ecosystem stack for innovators and entrepreneurs who are developing waste management solutions with a focus on supply chains efficiencies, logistics traceability, and waste-to-value systems.
Karl-Johan Persson, Board Member of H&M Foundation, said “With H&M Foundation’s entrepreneurial heritage and spirit, we see it as both essential and inspirational to use technology and innovation to create social change. New ideas are needed for positive development, and waste management and material recycling are fundamental components of a circular economy. We are happy to support this innovation challenge and are excited to see what impact it will have.”
The top five winners of Techtonic will join the first cohort of Social Alpha Waste Innovations Accelerator and will receive support in their lab-to-market journey. The accelerator will assist startups with fully-paid pilots, expert guidance, go-to-market strategy, ecosystem access, and an opportunity to pitch for seed capital investment up to Rs 1 crore.
Sustainability is a key part of the Techtonic Innovations Challenge
The accelerator is calling for ideas that can impact multiple stakeholders such as the central, state, and local government bodies, private sector, and civil society to drive the uptake of high-impact and scalable technology innovations.
The innovation challenge is inviting applications from startups that are working on addressing the challenges such as network optimisation for supply chain efficiency of waste-generated data for waste management. It will also enable technology solutions for end-to-end waste traceability, transparency, and visibility of the waste supply chain. The "Waste to Value" method will enable recycling and resource recovery from waste streams through innovations, with a focus on low-value waste.
With an initial outlay of Rs 15 crore committed by H&M Foundation and Social Alpha, the programme will continue to seek more partners as it progresses in its journey. It has also forged partnerships with Start-up India, Invest India, AGNii, Government of Karnataka, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), and Saamuhika Shakti to scale this initiative across the country.
Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Alpha, said, “We believe that climate action can be catalysed by accelerating entrepreneurial solutions to waste management challenges. Deep science and technology innovations will provide the much-needed impetus to create circular economic models and enhance livelihood opportunities for millions of waste warriors engaged in this sector. We are delighted to partner with H&M Foundation to nurture entrepreneurship for social, economic and environmental impact – which represents a unique triple bottom-line paradigm.”
Saamuhika Shakti, the collective impact project, is the programme partner for problem curation, pilots and validations.
According to the World Bank, our country is the largest producer of waste in the world owing to its population size. As per a 2016 estimate, India generates 277 million tonnes of municipal solid waste every year. Lack of proper waste management has led to our cities grappling with overflowing landfills, which are hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions, oceans filling up with plastics and leachate from landfills leaking into the soil and groundwater.