It all started when Nivedha R M, a chemical engineering student decided to find a solution to a perennial problem faced by humanity – that of garbage. Today, after five years of hard work, what started out as a solo venture has now grown into an organisation of 60 people being funded by the World Bank and the Government of the United Kingdom. All thanks to Trashbot, the innovative new waste segregation device that can help solve the problem of waste management in India by segregating dry and wet waste.
A bright chemical engineering student with several lucrative job offers from reputed companies, Nivedha chose to take the pass less travelled and turned to innovation. The basic prototype of Trashbot, the waste segregating machine, was made using Rs lakh that Nivedha’s mother lent her. The model won Rs 10lakh price money at Elevate 100, a flagship program by the Government of Karnataka that chooses 100 best start-ups and funds them. Thus began her journey with Trashbot, the machine that segregates waste to the last bit.
Segregating for Better Waste Management
Nivedha realized very early that segregation is the root cause for all the waste that ends up in landfills. Though several responsible neighbourhoods segregate waste before disposal, the dry and wet waste end up together eventually. Also, multi-layered, single-use plastic packing of chips and chocolate bars cannot be recycled.
Nivedha also had to ensure that the machine was easy to use and would be easily adapted by sanitation workers, many of who do not have the literacy to understand complex instructions.
How does Trashbot work?
Trashbot separates wet and dry waste without requiring excessive human involvement. When a bag of mixed waste is put into the machine, the contents are sent into a magnetic separation system where batteries, contaminants and other metals are removed. The rest is taken up by a loading conveyor and sent into the shredding unit.
Once shredded, the waste falls in front of a high-pressure, high-speed fan. The air pressure ensures that the biodegradable waste is collected in a conveyor close to the fan and the non-biodegradable waste is pushed further, to be collected separately.
The non-biodegradable waste is then converted into sheets that resemble plywood but are 50% lesser the price. They are already made into furniture and are supplied to 3000 government schools in rural Karnataka. When you ask those kids, where did the tables and benches they use in school came from, they answer it came from the plastic they discarded at their homes. This is where it should all start, says Nivedha R M.
Saurabh Jain, a CA and an electronics engineer became Nivedha’s mentor from her early days. He quit his own firm of three years and joined her with the same passion to find the solution that everyone wanted but nobody was ready to try on.
Today, Trashbot designs and manufactures such segregation devices of various capacity in their multiple manufacturing units. They have set up 15 plants across India. They also have signed up deals with Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore already. Industry magnates like Cadbury, Unilever and others are keen on investing in Trashbots and some have already struck major deals with them.
Along with effective management of waste, Nivedha’s team is slowly achieving its goal of not letting garbage ending up in landfills. The recycled sheets are sold all over including online e-commerce platforms like Amazon. In the fiscal year 2020-21, they made a profit of around 8.5 crores. But the greatest joy to Nivedha is the relief and dignity such devices will bring to sanitation workers and in both the organised and unorganized sector as well as manual scavengers, who continue to bear the brunt of India’s waste management problem.