Phool, Zeroplast Labs, Loopworm, Swachha Ecosolutions and Muddleart have been announced as the top 5 winning start-ups of ‘Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management’, a joint initiative of Social Alpha and the H&M Foundation. This programme is part of the Saamuhika Shakti initiative by H&M Foundation in India. The program envisions to create an enabling ecosystem stack for innovators and entrepreneurs developing solutions to accelerate waste management, processing and improve the overall quality of life of the informal sector in India.
The top 5 winning start-ups of Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management are focused on developing technology innovations to move the needle towards a circular economy and enhance the lives and livelihoods of the informal sector:
Muddleart, New Delhi: Muddleart is creating a systemic approach to manage pre-consumer textile waste in India. The start-up has created backward and forward linkages to streamline the flow of pre-consumer textile waste and create recyclable material and upcycled products.
Phool, Kanpur: Phool is driving climate action and creating a circular economy by upcycling tonnes of floral waste into charcoal-free environment friendly incense products. The start-up is also using discarded flowers to innovate cruelty-free bio alternative to animal leather called ‘Fleather’ which will cut down several traditional downstream leather tanning processes that are highly unsustainable.
Loopworm, Karnataka: Loopworm is producing sustainable food & feed by bringing food waste back into the circular loop. The start-up is doing this by creating an extremely protein rich diet for fisheries and poultry farms by farming insects to feed them using food waste which currently lands in landfills.
Swachha Ecosolutions, Bengaluru: Swachha Ecosolutions is providing waste management consulting services and recycling of waste streams across businesses, commercial complexes, municipalities and residential societies. One of their innovations is processing formulated grades of multi-layered plastic and low value film waste and adding them to asphalt for road construction.
ZeroPlast Labs, Pune: ZeroPlast Labs is actively working on developing sustainable materials to replace plastics. ZeroPlast collects and upcycles biomass waste into compostable bioplastics and composites, which can be used as a sustainable alternative to oil-based and non-biodegradable single use plastics.
The winning start-ups will join Social Alpha’s Waste Innovations Accelerator – a one year immersive venture development program where they will be provided with access to resources to become growth-ready. The support includes 1. Market Validation Lab: an opportunity to implement their business in a new geography with Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), public or private institutions for a year to help them validate and refine their business model and prepare for scale 2. Immersive Lab: each start-up will be provided support in marketing and digitization of their operations 3. Technology and Business Incubation Support: winners will get access to Social Alpha’s incubation offerings such as mentorship by a set of qualified global and local experts in the waste management sector, go-to-marketing strategy support, opportunity to pitch to a large investor and donor network and potential opportunity to access Social Alpha’s seed support.
The objective of the Accelerator is to enable the start-ups to overcome high operational barriers in scaling to new locations, and successfully enter new geographies.
Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation, said, “We are so happy to support these winning innovations and are excited to follow the entrepreneurs on their journey. Innovation is fundamental to improve the waste management system, but it is also crucial to improve the life of waste pickers. By reducing the amounts of waste that end up in landfills waste pickers are true heroes, and new technologies can give them safer and more dignified lives as well as highlighting the recognition they deserve”.
Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Alpha, said, “The need to usher innovations all along the value chain is crucial to solve the complexities of waste management problems. The winning innovations have demonstrated the potential to create impact and scale across geographies. Our Waste Innovations Accelerator has been designed to help these start-ups overcome barriers of entering into new markets by convening cross-sectoral collaboration with Urban Local Bodies, private institutions and civil society”.
The winners were selected from over 108 applications, based on a set of criteria with the focus being broadly on technology innovation, impact, operational scalability, and business sustainability. The applications went through multiple rounds of evaluations by an external expert committee and a jury panel. The top 10 finalists then presented to a Jury of experts from across different disciplines, with a waste management background leading to the selection of winners.