Waste management is a growing concern worldwide, and India is no exception. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India faces significant challenges when it comes to waste disposal and environmental sustainability. However, amidst these challenges, there are individuals like Sharan Subaiah, who are leading the way in transforming the waste recycling industry in India. This is the story of how Rang De social investors partnered with Saahas and enabled Sharan’s journey in waste recycling and the impact of his efforts on the environment.
Sharan Subaiah runs Green Earth Industries - a waste recycling facility based in Bangalore.
Sharan entered the waste recycling sector in 2020. He was fascinated by the recycling process and shifted from his previous stint in warehouse and supply management before starting out on his own.
One look at the sector and he learnt that the ways of the sector were very informal. It looked channelized on the outside but had numerous operational inefficiencies.
The informal ways of the waste recycling industry needed a change.
The new-age entrepreneur had a vision for the industry.
What set Sharan apart were his priorities - formal employment for labourers, safety and precautionary measures for their well-being, quality standards and operational efficiency of the supply chain.
Sharan realised to increase the quality of recycling, he’ll need to engage at the source level. A process change was required at the level of the aggregators and vendors who procured and supplied plastic waste.
Sharan first set up his plant in Mysore with the handholding of Saahas - a Rang De Impact Partner. He picked up the ways of the industry and attuned himself to work his way through the existing norms. Sharan did his research on plastic waste management and tried to set up a formal aggregator setup. He learnt from the mistakes he made early on and continued to work his way.
The biggest challenge he faced was procuring the raw material i.e. plastic waste for his factory. The vendors were not in on the process changes and preferred their comfortable ways of dealing. With the help of Sahaas, Sharan got in touch with a few vendors who were happy to oblige and believe in him. Over the next 8 months, they recognised the value Sharan brought to the table like hassle-free collections and digital transactions to name a few. Now with an experience of three years, Sharan has a fleet of vendors who are happy to do business with him.
Sharan says, ‘I realised change is gradual, one cannot push it.’
The mechanics of running a waste recycling plant and its challenges
It was important for entrepreneurs like Sharan to sustain this initial period of uncertainty and continue the operation until they become sustainable. A waste recycling plant is a very capital-intensive business. Working capital is required to procure the raw materials, pay the employees and maintenance of the facility. At least 6-8 months of working capital is required until the facility reached the break-even point.
Sharan says that to reach the breakeven tonnage in his waste recycling facility he needs to process 60-70 tonnes of plastic waste every month.
How Rang De social investors enabled Sharan's enterprise
The initial phase was difficult as vendors did not supply the required quantity. But with the help of Saahas and a Rang De loan of ₹10 lakh funded by 142 social investors, Sharan continued his operation during this tough period.
Rang De Social Investors funded Sharan’s enterprise with a loan of ₹10 lakh rupees. This was mainly used to procure raw materials and pay for operational expenses. Sharan emphasised that timely availability of credit is very crucial in the business as it can make or break orders.
In just 8 months of operation, Green Earth Industries (GEI) has successfully procured and recycled a remarkable 366 metric tonnes of plastic waste. This significant achievement has been made possible by a dedicated team of 21 employees working tirelessly towards the company's mission.
GEI has achieved a 100% recycling rate, meaning that every single piece of plastic waste obtained has been effectively recycled.
None of it has ended up in landfills, which is a remarkable feat considering the scale of the waste management challenge we face today. Currently, Sharan has taken up the IKEA inclusion project. Waste recycling in India holds immense significance for the environment, economy, and society at large. Entrepreneurs like Sharan are catalysts for change, driving the industry towards formalisation, sustainability, and positive impact. As responsible citizens, we can actively participate by investing in entrepreneurs like Sharan.
Together, we can create a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future for India and the world.
Enable entrepreneurs and make a social investment while getting repaid with interest at rangde.in today!