India’s garbage problem has always been hot topic for discussions. The tourists discuss it to criticise the cleanliness of the nation, while political leaders discuss it to generate votes. But no one makes an attempt to solve the garbage problem.
Saahas – ‘Zero Waste’ Solutions is a not-for-profit organisation registered under the Society’s Act of 2001. It works with waste generators and implements best possible practices to make sure waste is managed properly as penned down by the Municipal Solid Waste Management and Handling Rules introduced by the Supreme Court of India.
Former journalist and tour guide Wilma Rodrigues used to hear several complaints from tourists regarding the garbage-ridden streets in India. With an aim to eradicate the problem completely, she set up an NGO in late 1990s under the government’s “Clean India Program” or “Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan” that focused on increasing awareness among people to keep their environment clean.
When she realised over a decade that only educating people was not enough and implementing practices to achieve waste removal and recycling was needed, she broadened her venture’s vision and mission. By then, however, there were so many companies that started recycling the waste but transporting wasted from its origin to far-flung destinations where recycling plants were set up was not a good idea as the garbage dropped all over the roadways while being transferred.
To fix this garbage dropping problem, Rodrigues partnered with the recycling companies, which were located in areas like tech parks, schools and large residential complexes. This partnership helped reduction of waste transportation and conversion of garbage into resources. Saahas introduced its second entity recently called Saahas Zero Waste Solutions Pvt Ltd that offers professional services to waste generators and help them recycle wastes and convert them into resources.
Recently, it was announced that Saahas received seed funding from Indian Angel Network with participation from Nagaraj Prakasm as well as Upaya Social Ventures. With the second segment of the venture coming into operation, the organisation has started decentralising waste management processes, thereby converting waste into resources like biogas and compost. Plastic and electronic wastes are also gathered and recycled by Saahas.
On behalf of it clients, Saahas sets-up around 30 recycling centres each of 2,500 square feet. It employs 80 waste pickers for the purpose. The venture identifies waste by type and opts for the right pick to recycle it properly. It also educates clients on implementation of best waste management practices.
Saahas charges INR 2,500,000 (US$39,000) for establishing a biogas plant and around 1,200,000 (US$18,000) to begin a compost plant. It also has a fee applicable for operating its centres.