Late last year (2016) the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) released a modified draft for managing electronic waste. The draft puts the onus on manufacturers of electronics goods to collect 30% of e-goods and have it recycled by authorised e-waste management companies as per prescribed rules in a structured process. Namo eWaste Management Pvt Ltd. is one such company started by 28 year old Akshay Jain who was inspired by the UK’s proactive e-waste management system. While the company’s name seems to be a derivative of the PM’s moniker, it in fact means ‘Namaskar’ in Prakrit language.
He talks to Networked India about how his startup manages electronic waste recycling in a safe and structured manner, the programs they run to raise awareness among citizens about correct e-waste disposal as well as the steps government needs to take to improve India’s capacity to manage its e-waste which is growing at 15% every year.
Networked India (NI): When and how did Namo eWaste start?
Akshay Jain (AJ): During my post graduation days in the UK, I studied the organised waste management channels present there. All kinds of wastes are identified, segregated and disposed as per the specified norms in all the cities of UK and recycling mechanism is in place. I was inspired by their waste management system and started thinking about implementing something similar in our country, countering the local challenges that are present. All this led to the birth of Namo eWaste Management Ltd.
E-waste got my focus because of the lack of awareness about it as well as because of the fact that it is the fastest growing solid waste stream. India definitely lacks the kind of infrastructure required for hazardous waste management and that became an inspiration for me.
NI: Please elaborate about the concept behind Namo E-Waste’s recycling operation.
AJ: We are an e-waste recycling company having one of the most technologically equipped and internationally accredited facilities. E-waste is categorised as hazardous waste because of the harmful emission from the process of recycling it. This waste should only be processed in authorised plants and facilities to have no impact on the environment. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has laid out a set of rules for handling and management of e-waste. All the bulk consumers and producers of e-waste are given extra responsibilities while dumping their e-waste and should be only giving it to an authorised recycler.
India is the 5th largest producer of e-waste out of which only 10% reaches authorised recyclers. The informal sector operating in e-waste recycling are themselves not aware about its hazards on health and surroundings. Hence, the opportunity is huge for recyclers along with the challenges. Moreover, the new set of rules from October 2016 from the CPCB has further put restrictions on the informal recycling of e-waste and things are shaping up nicely with various Government initiatives related to environmental concerns.
We started studying about e-waste in 2013 and took us 1 year to complete the feasibility study and the company came up in 2014. We started installing the machinery and setting up the plant along with the process of approval from the authorities. In August 2015, we commenced our operations after getting all the required approvals. Since then the journey has been excellent and we have overcome the challenges of a new business model that had no reach to the consumers. We have been able to grab good market share and got into contracts with various top companies.
NI: Namo E-Waste provides a slew of services. Describe a few of them in the context of the technology you use to provide them.
AJ: Our services include-
- Data Security – Protection of confidential data is an important concern for many organisations. We provide transparent 3x data destruction services which include data destruction through software, hard disk degaussing and hard disk shredding.
- Asset Recovery/Refurbishment – We give a new lease of life to the discarded electronic devices by repairing them at the lowest cost. The refurbished products are available at less than 30% of the price of a new product with the same brand value and customer satisfaction. We are also giving standard warranties on these products.
- Responsible Recycling – The scrap items are put through dismantling and recycling operations for metal and non-metal valuables recovery from them. The entire process is done in controlled system and it is ensured that there is no harmful emission. The recovered valuables are sold as commodities to the respective recyclers. The hazardous material is disposed responsibly as per the norms.
NI: What according to you makes Namo E-Waste stand out among the other players in the e-waste management and recycling space? What is your USP?
AJ: There are quite a few start ups operating in this industry but we don’t see anyone who has really taken over the market in the country. In addition, we are looking at this slightly differently – we are focusing a lot more on awareness among people about recycling and making them see the value of recycling. We believe that if people understand how their discarded materials can be used to create new products, and how they can contribute to saving natural resources, their perspective to their waste will change.
Our USP is the experience of handling scrap at lowest cost and with maximum efficiency. Our recycling facility is technologically advanced and highly accredited.
NI: Give us a brief background about the founders and their previous experience.
AJ: I am the Director & Founder of Namo eWaste Management Pvt Ltd. I’m an engineer & have completed my Master’s degree in Business Management from Greenwich University, London. While studying in UK I was inspired by their recycling mechanism and decided to make a difference by revolutionising the recycling industry in India. I started Namo e-Waste in 2014 and am determined to take Namo to a national level by 2020 to reduce the cost of logistics and be the most competitive company in the country.
Nimit Gupta, a 26-year old entrepreneur is the COO. He manages Business Development and forms new strategies to capture business opportunities. He wants to implement International standards and processes in order to organise this industry. He has a degree in BBA from IP University and has varied work experience in companies like Turner Construction Company and Uber before deciding to start his entrepreneurial journey.
NI: Explain the importance of e-recycling and e-waste management in India where the usage of electronic items is growing exponentially.
AJ: E-Waste contains highly toxic elements and the recycling methods adopted by the informal sector for recovery of these items release harmful emissions (lead, mercury, phosphor etc.). These hazardous substances have an adverse effect on our environment and health. Some of them leads to permanent deformations that cannot be treated. E-waste is the fastest growing mainstream solid waste in the world and India its growing at 15% annually. Hence, e-waste management becomes necessary for our country and no time should be wasted on implementation of the government rules. India should present an example to the world that development can be done in an environmentally sustainable way.
NI: How is Namo E-Waste helping create awareness among the Indian public and corporates?
AJ: We are organising various e-waste collection and awareness drives across Delhi NCR. The events take place at schools, institutes, RWA’s, housing societies etc. Through these events we spread awareness at consumer level about hazards of improper e-waste recycling. We provide them door step service for collection of e-waste. The focus is prima facie on awareness about segregating e-waste from other forms of waste so that it doesn’t end up in dustbins. We have also placed some e-waste drop bins for the consumers for their low value wastes.
We are also doing social media campaigns as well as other media campaigns for awareness cause. This is a way to reach out to masses and also present a solution at the same time.
NI: What would you like to see in terms of government policy to take this forward on a national level?
AJ: The government has come up with various initiative for environment protection and for e-waste, new set of rules are laid out in 2016. The intent of the government is very positive but the implementation of these rules at the grass root level is a matter of concern. The government should apply more reforms to check that the rule for handling and management of e-waste should be properly implemented.
The government should also organise mass level awareness campaigns to make the people aware about the hazards of e-waste. This includes setting up of e-waste bins in the cities, a dedicated e-waste collection facility for the users to dump their e-waste there and providing right solution for the end of life disposal of e-waste.
NI: Where do you currently provide e-waste management services and what is the future vision for Namo E-Waste?
AJ: We have our recycling facilities and office in Faridabad, Haryana. Currently we have our presence in 12 states and UT’s across India through our collection centres and channel partners (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Mumbai, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu). Through these locations, we have been able to reach out to 70% of the e-waste generated in the country. We collect e-waste from leading companies across India through contractual procurement. We are also buying it from various institutes, organisations and smaller companies (B2B Model).
For B2C model, we are collecting e-waste from housing societies, RWA’s and houses through conducting awareness and collection drives across NCR. We have got a lot of appreciation from the consumers who are aware about e-waste and are able to connect to the cause. People are willing to even donate their low value waste for charitable causes. We are looking to expand in this area of business and reach out to maximum people through our application based venture ‘Planet Namo’.
We look forward to expand to all the 35 states and UT’s in India with at least one collection facility in each. At our recycling facility, which has an installed capacity of 50,000 metric tonnes, we are looking forward to install a precious metal recovery plant from e-waste to extract gold, silver etc. This will make us one of the most prominent facilities in the world. This will come at an investment of about Rs. 20 crore.