Six women-led organisations tackling India's garbage crisis with impactful solutions

These six women-led waste-management organisations work towards a cleaner, greener environment by diverting waste from ending up in landfills, and putting them to more productive use instead.

Nalini Shekar, Wilma Rodrigues, Vani Murthy, Poonam Bir Kasturi, Pronita Saxena, and Anjana Iyer

Most of us are familiar with garbage being strewn across the streets, clogging up the drains, and being rummaged through by animals, because we see it almost everywhere we go. We often tend to overlook it and move along, not wanting to be part of a bigger problem.

But these six waste-management organisations that are run by women are changing things from ground up, for the better.

Hasiru Dala Innovations, Nalini Shekar, Bengaluru

Nalini Shekar, Co-founder, Hasiru Dala Innovations | Image credit: Firstpost

Co-founded by Nalini Shekar in 2013, Hasiru Dala Innovations (HDI) is a for-benefit, not-for-loss social enterprise that focuses on creating better livelihoods for waste-pickers, while offering bulk-waste generators an end-to-end waste-management solution.

HDI’s employees have two streams of income. One is a fixed monthly pay with incentives, and the other is the individual revenue they earn from the recyclables they collect. HDI charges bulk-waste generators a fee, based on the principle of ‘the polluter pays’.

HDI also has an all-women primary collection team that is in charge of the collection, transport and management of waste segregation at source.

There are currently 23 waste-pickers working for HDI, of whom many have been able to explore their entrepreneurship abilities, file tax returns, own property and much more. HDI has over 430 clients who help keep over 900 tons of waste per month away from landfills through responsible waste-management.

Daily Dump, Poonam Bir Kasturi, Bengaluru

Poonam Bir Kasturi, Founder, Daily Dump | Image credit: Small Change NGO

Founded by Poonam Bir Kasturi in 2006, Daily Dump focuses on building products and services for decentralised waste management in homes, communities, offices and public spaces. It offers a range of segregation products, composters, informational books and more, to encourage responsible waste management.

While it seems easier to throw waste out, Daily Dump believes that turning organic food and plant waste into compost at home will help keep a large amount of garbage off the streets and landfills. The compost can then be used as fertilisers for plants at home and across communities.

Along with facilitating responsible waste management, Daily Dump sources its earthen composters from local potters, and supports their livelihoods.

Also read: From solar power products to wastewater management, these nine women entrepreneurs are working to change lives in the energy domain

Orbin, Anjana Iyer, Bengaluru

Anjana Iyer, Founder, Orbin | Image credit: Orbin

Founded by Anjana Iyer in 2015, Orbin encourages and facilitates hassle-free composting, tackling the issue of wet waste right at the root. The Orbin composter, made of fibre-reinforced plastic that can last up to eight years, is a system meant for households, communities, and office spaces where people have busy schedules, but want to contribute to a healthier environment.

Orbin aims to encourage every urban household to realise the value of kitchen waste, and divert as much waste from landfills as possible. It believes that the best way to handle the garbage crisis is to segregate waste at source, and dealing with organic waste in small scales is where Orbin helps.

Saahas Zero Waste, Wilma Rodrigues, Bengaluru

Wilma Rodrigues, Founder, Saahas Zero Waste

Founded by Wilma Rodrigues in 2001, Saahas Zero Waste is a socio-environmental enterprise focusing on waste-management and resource recovery. Registered as an empanelled vendor with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for both dry and wet waste, Saahas diverts waste away from landfills and ensures maximum resource recovery by sending it to the right destinations.

Following an expansion of its clientele and scope of operations, Saahas instituted a Material Recovery Facility in 2017 which can manage around sixteen tons of waste per day.

Currently, Saahas works with more than 80 clients across Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Goa, and manage a collective amount of 38 tons of waste every day.

Saahas aims to create a zero waste world through circular economy by bringing together nature, people and technology and implementing impactful waste management solutions.

Also read: Plastics, pollution and public participation: these startups are changing things for the better

Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT), Vani Murthy, Bengaluru

Vani Murthy, Co-founder, SWMRT

Co-Founded by Bengaluru's 'Composting Queen' Vani Murthy in 2009, Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) is a public interest collective of SWM practitioners towards encouraging citizens and municipalities to manage their waste responsibly. It focuses on improving public health, making safe food, water and air accessible, and being inclusive of all livelihoods.

SWMRT runs campaigns such as 2bin1bag, Swacha Graha and Trashonomics to sensitise the public about the importance of efficient waste management.

SWMRT has a total of fifteen founding members, of whom thirteen are women.

Also read: Talking ‘trash’ with Vani Murthy

Citizengage, Pronita Saxena, Bengaluru

Pronita Saxena, Co-founder, Citizengage

Part of YourStory's Tech30, Citizengage, co-founded by Pronita Saxena in 2015, is an end-to-end, waste-to-resource startup with the aim of letting every household segregate their waste in real-time through an app that users can use to monitor their waste management progress.

Citizengage collects garbage from doorsteps and transports it to their respective recycling areas, and during these operations, each household gets marked as a red, grey or green spot according to their understanding and implementation of waste segregation, to put social pressure on residents into being resourceful garbage segregators.

The startup targets large residential communities and commercial establishments, and charges a monthly fee to manage their waste-to-resource systems.

Citizengage has currently diverted more than eight thousand tonnes of waste from landfills, recycled more than three thousand tons, and turned more than five thousand tons into biogas and compost.

Also read: [Tech30] One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Citizengage aims to turn Bengaluru’s garbage problem around