Recykal connects waste generators, waste aggregators, and waste processors through their online marketplace. The UN SDGs covered by this innovation are SDG 08 (Decent work and economic growth), SDG 09 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production).
Goa Institute of Management
Recykal is a one-of-a-kind platform where waste products produced in various parts of the country are traded similar to products on any e-commerce website such as Amazon and Flipkart. To that effect, the employees at Recykal proudly refer to themselves as a w-commerce or waste-commerce platform. Starting off as a business to collect and aggregate waste from households in exchange of reward vouchers, Recykal gradually entered the B2B space, connecting large waste generators like hotel chains, shopping malls, and other industries.
Recykal promotes decent work and economic growth (SDG 08) by giving their employees an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the economy through the waste management domain. The technological sophistication of the w-commerce marketplace created by Recykal proves to be an important example of innovation and infrastructure (SDG 09).
As a profession, waste collection in India has always been looked down upon socially as taboo. Recykal attempts to break this societal perception by training individual waste collectors (Kabadiwalas) and integrating them into their workforce. This is a significant contribution to reducing inequalities (SDG 10). Introducing circular economy in a country like India will provide a massive boost to responsible consumption and production (SDG 11) while also promoting the idea of sustainable cities and communities (SDG 12).
The initial stages of Recykal were in the form of a company which collected old, unused things from households which people were not willing to give up because of nostalgia or emotional connect. The founder, Mr. Abhay Deshpande understood this emotional connect very well due to his experience with Malamall.com, India's first E-commerce platform where people sent rakhis (threads celebrating the brother-sister bond) to their loved ones abroad.
Capitalizing on this, the company collected these old things from people's homes and offered vouchers against them. This way, people did not feel that they were completely discarding these items. Building up on this, the team felt that they should move completely into the waste management space. This is how Recykal was born. Moving on from households to full-fledged businesses, Recykal started to connect with companies and recyclers, gradually forming a country wide network of waste management
Recykal is a for-profit organization. "Profitability is easier to scale and relate with rather than sympathy," feels Mr. Baregar. Their commitment and professionalism towards the work they do creates hope in a world where sustainability often conflicts with profitability. It is often seen that a business breaks the norm in terms of their ideas and offerings. What is rarely seen is that a business also breaks social prejudices and mindsets. Rag pickers and waste collectors trained and integrated into the Recykal ecosystem are being given an experience of belonging to a profession, a brand. "We are attempting to make waste management a white-collar job," says Mr. Baregar.
Being the first of its kind, Recykal has had a significant impact on the Indian waste management space. Connecting with big businesses such as D-Mart, Novotel, and Infosys, its scope is now countrywide. This one platform connects the waste generators, waste processors, recyclers, rag pickers, and waste collectors, ultimately forming a huge network and online marketplace.
Promoting strong ethical values such as a no child labor policy, branding, a healthy working environment, minimum wages. Recykal is a prime example of a business having strong ESG principles. The Swachh Bharat Mission by the Indian government served as a healthy boost to Recykal since government policy aligned perfectly with their business objectives.
The fact that Recykal has been training middlemen, promoting micro-entrepreneurship, conducting cross-state waste management operations, and processing around 20000 metric tonnes of waste are strong evidence that Recykal is making a sizable impact in the country, and will continue to do so in the years to come. A pivotal place in this impact is held by the technology that serves as the foundation of Recykal. It is important to note that Recykal does not involve in the actual collection or warehousing of waste products. It connects those who perform these activities through its technology, the online marketplace.
To this effect, Recykal has also received several accolades over the course of its operation such as the Indian Circular Economy Award, Best Waste Management Digital Technology Provider, Excellence in Waste Management, Responsible Business of the Year 2020 and Best Waste Management Initiative by a Private Organization in year 2022.
Recykal marketplace has taken firm root in the Indian waste management sector. In terms of employees, it has grown from 5-10 personnel to around 150. It has received a $4 million funding in 2020, following which it faced several ups and downs due to the pandemic and lockdown situation in the country.
Looking at a few more numbers, Recykal has a total turnover of more than Rs. 600 million and a net worth of more than Rs. 170 million. Moreover, it has raised a funding of $22 million from Morgan Stanley in January 2022. Breaching the $100 billion plastic waste space in India is indeed a herculean task that Recykal has taken upon itself, and it seems to be up to the task.
Adding to this is the social growth that Recykal has experienced in the context of employee welfare and middlemen training. Several families are now proud that their children will have a brighter and more secure future if they choose to follow in their parents’ footsteps in addition to the rise in social position they would obtain by being a part of the company.
The very business model of Recykal is a testament to environmental and social sustainability. In a country which produces 15 million tonnes of waste every day, a business which aggregates waste processors from all over the country to enable cross state connections and recycle waste is nothing short of a blessing.
Working in this space places Recykal in a unique position, where the business is a cause in itself and garners support from all fronts (government, investors, employees, partners and the public). Circular economy is an important necessity in today’s world and Recykal is surely playing its part in promoting the same in India. Naturally there are obstacles in terms of penetration and scalability of the business to encompass the entire waste market of India, but there is a strong possibility that Recykal will usher a new wave of similar businesses attempting to make a place for themselves in this domain. Considering the potential of the Indian waste management space, Mr. Baregar believes that there is plenty of unicorn opportunity for aspiring start-ups of the country.
Chetan Baregar, Founding Team Member
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Business Website: https://www.recykal.com/
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 51 to 200