SAMPURN(E)ARTH – A MUMBAI BASED START-UP WHICH IS REVOLUTIONISING THE WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN INDIA
In a city that never sleeps, people run around day and night to make two ends meet. But in this chaos, when one sees women in uniform, lined up with safety gloves and wheel barrows filled with collected waste, it depicts a different Mumbai altogether. Tired of seeing biodegradable waste spread all around, and municipal body and citizens playing the blame game with each other, a group of TISS students decided to put an end to it. Studying Social Entrepreneurship at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, they were taught to see every problem as an opportunity, and everything as a resource. They saw wealth in the waste, and decided to share it with the waste collectors. Starting Sampurn(e)arth in 2012, Debartha Banerjee, Jayanth S and Ritwik Rao directed their thoughts towards finding effective technologies for waste management. After consulting different organizations and people working in this field, they zeroed in on the Nisargruna Biogas technology designed by BARC for organic waste.
Starting from home, they set up a Bio-gas plant in TISS Campus, and experimented with organic waste from the Canteens and Hostel Mess. To their surprise, it helped save precious and costly LPG for cooking. The inorganic segregated waste sold to recyclers, got good money too. Thinking innovative, they helped convert the paper waste, into products like notepads and envelopes. Analysing all figures, they developed a Zero Waste Model involving – Waste Audit, Design of a Waste Management System tailored to the situation, Installation and Commissioning of Operations. In association with the municipal corporation, they organised waste pickers into cooperatives and provided with facilities like provident fund, insurance, payroll, transportation services to reach management centres, etc. Sampurn(e)arth also created a network of fair price scrap shops connected to different recycle units, spread across the city.
“Local waste pickers sell the scrap at fair prices in these centres. Once the waste reaches the centre, it is segregated for further process”, explains Debartha Banerjee. Sampurn(e)arth has also associated itself with many Corporates in Mumbai, and set up a Waste Management System for them. Every morning a vehicle collects the dry waste generated by corporate houses, townships, and schools, and brings them to the centre. Here the dry waste gets segregated, going to different recyclers, and some for product making. Sampurn(e)arth has also installed Bio-gas plants of different sizes and capacity, in different parts of the city. Waste pickers in protective uniforms collect the wet and organic waste, from the neighbourhoods, canteens, hotels, etc and and take them to various Bio-Gas Plants. The Bio-Gas generated is packaged in bags and sold to Hotels who wish to reduce their commercial LPG consumption. The slurry is converted into vermicompost and sold to organic farmers, bringing in good revenue from multiple sources. But the biggest achievement for Sampurn(e)arth has been to successfully instill waste segregation practices in the local communities.
“When they learnt that this waste is not just thrown away instead it is treated and further utilized, people started to follow segregation technique themselves”, mentions Debartha. The most significant impact has been on the lives of the waste pickers and their families making them economically stable and secure, and integrating them back into the society. The dignified waste pickers are now called Waste Managers. The model won the Global Social Venture Competition 2014 (www.gsvc.org) organized by the Haas School of Business of the University of California – Berkeley where they emerged as the winners out of 650 entries from 40 countries. The trio were selected as Top five Mumbai Heroes 2015, by Mumbai Mirror, and also honoured in Satyamev Jayate. Currently working with a team of 60 members under the payroll and 100 more in the cooperatives in and around Mumbai, Sampurn(e)arth plans to expand its services and capacity in different cities, and encouraging more entrepreneurs to take the initiative forward, as a profitable business model. The zealous TISS Alumni trio have shown that every social and environmental issue in the world can be solved, if you look at their hidden worth, and convert them into opportunities for entrepreneurship. They are the true Optimist Citizens of our country.
Story by : Praneta Agrawal | TOC
The Optimist Citizen is India’s First Purely Positive Newspaper (in print). Subscribe to The Optimist Citizen Newspaper starting at just Rs. 350 per year.
Help us sustain and spread Positive Journalism!