The garbage problem in India is not new or one to be taken lightly. Our country generates 14 million tonnes of waste everyday out of which only 83% is collected/disposed and only 29% is treated effectively. This has given rise to great landfill catastrophes such as the fire in mammoth Deonar site in Mumbai. These sites are already overflowing and we need to find new and innovate ways to take care of our waste management.
MobiTrash- a company is turning this innovation dream into a reality. Developed in association with the PMC, it segregates daily waste and turns it into compost for urban landscaping. They also have their very own composting machine. In a conversation with Saurabh Shah, VP of MobiTrash Recycling Ventures Ltd, we know more about the services they provide, the impact they want to create and the future of the waste management industry which is expected to hit the magic mark of $1 Bn by 2020.
Radhika Sharma (RS): Tell us about Mobitrash and the services it offers.
Saurabh Shah (SS): MobiTrash is India’s first-ever technology enabled mobile composting service. It is a subscription based model in which bulk waste generators such as apartment complexes, corporate offices, hotels, clubs, etc subscribe to our service from www.mobitrash.in and avail a regular organic waste collection and treatment service.
RS: Where did the idea of Mobitrash come from?
SS: The promoters of MobiTrash have more than 30 years of Municipal Solid Waste Management in India. Our country is seeing an unprecedented level of awareness and citizens are looking for sustainable waste management solutions and don’t mind paying for a good quality service. Hence the idea of MobiTrash was born.
RS: Tell us about your team and the operations?
SS: MobiTrash operates with a lean team of 12 people ranging from founders to techno commercial experts to on-ground operating staff and drivers.
RS: Could you please explain the entire cycle of collection, composting etc.
SS: Once subscribed, we fix a mutually suitable time with the client. At that time each day, a specially designed and equipped MobiTrash van reaches the customer site. It takes the segregated organic waste from the client and carries out primary treatment of waste at their site. The Raw Compost thus generated is carried by the van to a secondary site for further curing and conversion into high quality compost.
RS: Tell us about your composting machine.
SS: MobiTrash uses the Organic Waste Converter (OWC) machines from Excel Industries Limited. With more than 2,000 installations of various capacities across India, the OWC is a pioneer and leader in de-centralized organic waste treatment.
RS: Which cities are you currently operational in?
SS: Currently in Pune.
RS: Give us an insight into the garbage situation in India. How bad is it?
SS: India generates close to 75 million tons of garbage each year and less than 10% of it is scientifically treated. All the rest is only dumped, either legally or illegally. Dumped garbage causes all kinds of nuisance which is very hazardous to human health. Besides generating bad odour and attracting rodents, it generates methane that could potentially lead to fires, the recent examples of Deonar fire in Mumbai being a glaring example.
It’s like we’re sitting on a ticking time bomb. We, as a country, have never had a culture of segregation of waste management, hence we are at this stage.
The MSW Rules were formulated for the first time in India in the year 2000. Quite evidently, the rules have not been followed until today. Many large capacity MSW Treatment plants were set up in the country in the first decade. However, due to lack of administrative and political will, vested interests by various lobbies, almost all these plants are either dilapidated or shut down today.
In the year 2007, the wave of de-centralized waste management set into the country. Pune was one of the early adopters of de-centralized WM where in all bulk waste generators were either mandated or incentivized to carry out their own wet waste treatment after segregation.
Today, de-centralized waste management has become an integral part of MSW management in India as is recognized by the central, state and local governments. The MSW Rules 2016 have recently been released and they make significant mention of the same.
We should see radical improvements in the MSW situation of India in the next 5-10 years.
RS: What are simple steps that we can take to ensure proper waste management?
SS: It’s very simple, yet very difficult – segregation is the key to all problems related to waste. Segregated waste has more value for all those involved in the chain. Home owners must segregate their waste, use the organic fraction at the home / building / community level for composting and dry waste could be given to organized recyclers.
RS: What is the future of MobiTrash?
SS: MobiTrash is a game changer as far as MSW Management in India is concerned. Without any publicity at all, it has caught the imagination of people across the country. We are getting serious inquiries for collaborations, partnerships and launch in multiple cities. In the next one year, we hope to expand our operation in Pune 5-fold and launch the service in 5 more cities across India. From being a mobile composting service, we shall become an integrated waste management service providing comprehensive solution for both wet as well as dry garbage in India.