Opportunities in the waste management & environment business: 

This is brief concept note to answer many of the questions that I have been receiving from individuals looking to enter the waste management business. I have divided this article into the following sections: 

1.     Industry Size 

2.     Different Segments, investment and equipment needed 

3.     Knowledge & resources 

4.     Challenges

Industry Size: As per estimates made by our organization the industry is pegged at $42 Billion and growing rapidly. These estimates include, government tenders, recycling market size, hazardous waste and E-waste market. How did we arrive at this figure? By considering our own data that we have collected first hand over the last fifteen years, collecting and sorting data from all our vendors, visiting scrap dealers and recycling facilities and getting data from them as to how much waste they process and further sell out into the market. We also looked at government tenders across India in the field of waste management in terms of value along with visiting various large players in the unorganized sector that are involved in E-waste dismantling and car scrap dismantling. In my personal opinion the figure mentioned above is on the lower side and the industry size could be a lot larger, but we are certain about on fact, it is growing rapidly at 20% per year or more as more 7 more companies are being forced to comply with the law along with increased consumption, specially from tier 1 & 2 cities. Extended producer responsibility has added to the demand as companies now need to comply with this new legislation creating new business opportunities for existing players and new entrants.

Segments: Investment & Equipment Needed: 

1.     Waste collection: Sorting: Aggregation: Sale/Processing (Non Hazardous Waste) The biggest challenge that the country faces is the collection and segregation of waste. This market is completely dominated by the unorganized sector (95%) from residential, commercial and industrial sectors. With the onset of SWM rules 2016, residential establishments, companies, and industries now need to follow a host of rules and regulations. This has caused them to start looking for organizations or individuals who can manage their waste and provide them with data in form of reports along with proof of what is happening to the waste. 

a.     What is required: 

 i.     Warehouse where waste can be segregated and stocked 

ii.     E-rickshaw, paddle rickshaw, small trucks (tata Ace) for collection

iii.     Man power for collection & segregation 

iv.     In house composing or a tie up with an organization who can compost the waste for you. Search google you will find many of them. 

 v.     Finances: Under the startup India program the government is offering many incentives for entrepreneurs setting up new businesses. Speak to you accountant or better go onto google and do the research

vi.     Don’t have capital to buy a truck? Lease it! No down payment, no maintenance, no insurance cost, its all looked after by the company who you have leased the vehicle from. Start mall may be with a few rickshaws first till you build capacity. 

vii.     Network of scrap buyers: They are easy to find and once you have set up your operations will approach you by themselves. Waste normally goes through at least six hands before it reaches the end recycler. Once you have enough volume you may do away with these middle men and start supplying directly to recycling units. This will entail, putting in place a few addition segregation steps which you will learn along the way. 

viii.    Tie up with existing companies to leverage their network: There are many companies in this domain some that claim to be doing a lot and others who actually are. Do you research, visit their facilities do some investigative journalism before tying up with a company to act as their partner. 

2.         E-Waste: Collection, Storage, Dismantling, Recycling & Refurbishment: Read the E-waste management rules and get an understanding of the compliance requirements that are required. This is a massive industry that is again completely functioning in the unorganized sector. Just look at all the electronic devices that we as individuals own, multiply that by the country’s population (most if not all now have cell phones and TV I would say at least 70%), look at all the companies and the electronic devices they have and I can keep going on and on. This my friends is the future and there are only two companies in all of India who are actually processing E-waste! Research this online and see what part of the process you want to be involved in and accordingly get the requisite permissions to start. 

a.     What is Required: 

i.     Warehouse 

ii.     Small truck for collection 

iii.     Dismantling/Recycling equipment 

iv.     Permissions from Pollution control board to operate 

v.     Tie up with recycler if you are only dismantling or stocking 

b.     NOTE: Watch my video on certificate on hire and how this industry operates as of now. Make sure that you don’t follow in their footsteps and actually set up a process that adds value.  All the required information is available online for free. 

3.     Paper Shredding/Document Destruction Services: Many organizations have the need to discard their confidential documents and most don’t have heavy duty shredders at their facilities. The market size is not massive but growing and the barriers to entry are limited to having the right equipment in place. 

a.     What is Required: Heavy duty paper shredding machine. (Cross cut or Ribbon cut) 

b.     Small warehouse to stock the goods 

Plenty of buyers in the market for paper, you will be spoiled for choice. 

4.     Recycling Plastic: There are many different types of plastic and they all require to be recycled in a specific manner. The opportunity here is massive as again most of the industry is operating in an unorganized manner. With the onset of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) the demand for authorized, CPCB/SPCB recyclers has grown ten folds and the sector is not ready for it. Every brand needs to comply with these rules and as of now it’s like the wild wild west out there with NGO’s and companies pooping up calling themselves experts in the field. The key to success here is the unorganized sector ragpickers and scrap dealers, as they will be your source of input material unless you have your own collection in place. Ground work to establish a network will have to be done by you, get out there and start meeting with these individuals to understand how they operate and types of plastic waste that they can supply to you. There are hundreds and thousands of these operators across the country and easy to spot everywhere. 

a.     What is required 

i.     Ware house 

ii.     Small truck for collection 

iii.     Team to segregate the waste into different categories: Most individuals who do the plastic segregation process are specialized and know exactly what is what by touching it or even by looking at it. You will need a contractor, most of the are from Bengal and they can be found in Mundka, tekri and other plastic hubs of Delhi 

 iv.     Machinery: Grinder, Washer, Dryer, etc. You don’t need to buy them all and may start with just one part and slowly expand by adding additional steps till you get to the stage where you are actually recycling and making new products out of the waste that you receive. 

5.     Composting: Food waste is another huge opportunity that is waiting to be tapped. Most if not all food waste is dumped in the landfill when you can actually convert this into compost, bio-gas of CNG. The best thing to do is to start a collection drive from hotels, banquet halls, and other bulk generators of organic waste and bring it to your facility for processing. Processing can be done using the following methods:

a.     Verme composting: suing worms to convert organic waste into compost. You will require land and will have create pits and provide cover to the worms. Details can be found on google. 

b.     Windrow composting: land will be required, and waste will have to be churned every few days adding enzymes to expediate the composting process. Again plenty of information is available on google. 

c.     In vessel composting: This is composting in enclosed containers and does not require much space. You can convert the organic waste into manure, cooking gas or CNG depending on your requirements. 

d.     Community Composting: The solid waste management rules state that any establishment, commercial, residential or industrial covering over 5000 sq/meters of waste must compost their waste inhouse. The opportunity lies in establishing units within the compounds of these establishments by leasing the equipment to them and charging a monthly fee for maintenance and operations. 

i.     Where do you sell this?: Nurseries, households, online on Amazon, through Instagram and face book the potential is unlimited.

6.     Up Cycling & Refurbishment: You will be surprised what all people and companies actually throw out or sell. Many of these items can be refurbished and then sold out again as new or second-hand goods. Wood, Electronics, PET bottles, glass bottles, clothes can all be given a new life. What is the market size? Its small but growing. This is a niche market & sales can be channeled through online portals for free.

a.     What is required? 

i.     Deciding what product you want to work on. E.g. furniture from waste wood, creating decorative items from paper, PET or glass bottles etc. 

ii.     Designer who can help you design products 

iii.     Carpenter or other such people who can give reality to your ideas.

iv.     Online presence on Facebook, Instagram, snapchat, LinkedIn 

v.     Website or a landing page 

I will be writing an article about EPR and the specific of how you may enter this market next week along with some other opportunities in the waste water recycling and small scale energy generation from waste water that I have and will share with you in my next post. There is an abundance of information and work out there for individuals who are willing to make the effort to seek information, lean and then act on it. Unfortunately, most people either want to be middle men, earn without doing much or let their fears hold them back from actually realizing their dreams.   

If any of you reading this article have anything to add to it please feel free to comment. The idea is to prove the reader with a frame work of where the opportunities lie, research, ground work and implementation will have to be done by the reader. 

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