Recity and AWS are reclaiming cities through tech-led waste management solutions
One of the most pressing environmental issues in India today is waste management. Despite efforts to create policies and programmes, poor coordination, irregular regulation enforcement, and problems around collecting, transporting, and disposing of waste resulted in mounds and mounds of overflowing landfills. Factors such as climate conditions, microbial decomposition, and land-filling activities further compound the challenge. Furthermore, fast growing populations in urban cities continue to strain the system, with increasing levels of waste even as urban local bodies scramble to deal with the mess.
However, public sector startups have risen to the challenge, providing efficient, tech-led solutions to organise the sector and trim down the waste. One of these startups is Recity. Founded in 2017, this startup operates on a core idea of re-city, that when a city malfunctions, you can re-city it to make it work for its people.
With the assistance of organisations like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and programmes like AWS Startup Ramp, Recity is striving to offer citizens the right to reside in a clean city and assist local governments in their endeavours.
Hygienic, holistic, and data-driven solutions
Five years ago, Recity ventured into public sector waste management. With the assistance of key stakeholders, they began to divert waste from landfills and Environmentally Vulnerable Points (EVPs) such as hills, oceans, forests, and more.
Over time, they began to focus their endeavours on one of the most devastating environmental concerns - the abundance of plastic waste. According to Recity, plastic production rose to over 15 million tonnes annually, across industries and sectors. However, plastic disposal systems have not been able to keep up with this production, leading to plastic becoming trash very quickly. Additionally, companies in the (Fast-moving Consumer Goods) FMCG sector, in particular, found it hard to keep up with the sustainability and compliance goals they have set for themselves with respect to plastic waste management.
By observing these, and several other factors that contribute to plastic waste, Recity pivoted to mining precise and actionable data around plastics to combat the problem.
“Thus, we pivoted towards creating holistic and data-driven solutions backed by deep knowledge of ground implementation to keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment, essentially rooted our work in a circular economy approach,” said Akshay Hartalkar, chief product officer, Recity Network.
Through their efforts, Recity is now getting closer to creating a circular economy of plastics, with solutions that align to different stakeholders in the system. These include waste generators, waste workers, recyclers, waste producers, city governments and more. While Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) continue to drive waste management and waste workers operationalise the system , Recity is digitising the ecosystem to ensure transparency and traceability in the sector.
This is a massive undertaking that is made possible through extensive and advanced fieldwork, the support of organisations like AWS, and by employing the brightest tech minds in the country. What’s more, Recity also had to contextualise waste management for each city and make their solutions adaptable to various waste management systems and different stakeholders in the sector. Each city posed a different challenge for Recity, but also offered different learning opportunities and helped them develop flexible strategies and services.
Digitising the waste management journey
Recity’s efforts to automate the waste ecosystem are powered by its technology solution, Waste Intelligence. This ecosystem solution certified Recity as ISO 27001. It assists in diverting waste from oceans and landfills and offers each stakeholder an opportunity to combat the plastic pollution. From brand owners to packaging manufacturers, from city administrators to waste workers and finally consumers, cities can leverage Waste Intelligence easily to assist in handling waste.
This solution digitises the journey of plastics in cities to provide real-time data for solid waste management governance, improved services in cities for both citizens and waste workers. Additionally, Waste Intelligence also includes benefits and services such as end-to-end traceability of waste material, facility management, and automation of compliances and environmental disclosures.
Recity’s Waste Intelligence solution leverages three technologies to great effect. These include CITYLOOP, CETRACES, and CYNKRO. CITYLOOP, an integrated technology platform, creates a transparent, traceable, and trackable monitoring waste management system. This helps digitise the city and brings it closer to an inclusive, circular model. CETRACES is deployed at the processing facility of every supply chain stakeholder to provide traceability to brands and improve the efficiency of the facilities. It takes care of the automation of material handling in the plastic supply chain. Finally, CYNKRO ensures automation of EPR compliance and circular packaging.
Launching into the public sector with AWS
The AWS Startup Ramp assists public sector startups with the building and scaling of their innovative solutions. Recity discovered this program through their network in the tech community and registered for it.
With the resources that the program offered, including AWS Promotional Credit and guidance in using AWS products, Recity was able to expand their services in the complex public sector ecosystem in India with confidence. The teams at AWS also helped with reviewing the system architecture design, optimising system resources to reduce costs, and maintaining high performance in real-time.
“As a result, Recity has a suite of applications which are blazing fast, highly scalable in nature, and are also ISO 27001 certified,” the company shared.
The programme also helped Recity expand its operations from one city to seven. By leveraging AWS offerings, Recity has implemented a technology solution which provides real-time monitoring of waste across properties across India. The company has also achieved segregation at source in these seven cities, preventing 53,000 tonnes of plastic entering into the environment. As a result of this, Recity helped these cities avoid 10,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. Waste Intelligence also empowered various stakeholders in the waste management chain, and the company has professionalised 2,000+ waste workers and improved their quality of life.
“Working with AWS has truly been an exciting journey in further building our Waste Intelligence platform. The AWS Startup Ramp Program has given us an excellent opportunity and platform to build innovative solutions and drive the world towards circularity,” said Akshay Hartalkar, chief product officer, Recity Network.