Kabadiwalla Connect

LOCATION: Chennai, India

SUMMARY: Inspired by the local Kabadiwalla, who are small scrap aggregators found in Indian cities & cities in the developing world, our ICT platform helps lower barriers that prevent residents from participating in recycling and composting, leveraging the informal waste ecosystem and helping divert waste from the landfill.

PROBLEM SPACE: "The generation of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is over-riding the population growth rate in all mega-cities in India. In Chennai (India) for example, the population growth between 1991 and 2001 was 21%, while its waste generation grew 61% between 1996 and 2002.

Furthermore, the economic and demographic growth of cities, coupled with changing lifestyles of people, changing land use patterns and technological advancements have led to an increase in the complexity of urban MSW management. Nationally, MSW generated in cities increased from 6 teragrams in 1947 to 48 teragrams in 1997 with a per capita increase of 1- 1.33% per year.

Improper Solid Waste Management is a systemic problem for all of India's cities, and a study found that 91% of all solid waste is collected and dumped unscientifically in open landfills. Currently, an estimated 18% of waste going to Chennai's landfills everyday can be recycled, and on average this number varies between 15%-25% depending on which city's waste is examined. Landfills in Indian cities are fast reaching maximum capacity and there is a critical need to manage post-consumer waste effectively."

SOLUTION: "Over the last two years we have developed two interventions that have the potential to leverage the power of the informal waste ecosystem, which can help small and medium waste generators manage their waste responsibly in the city.

Our solution consists of the following.
1. A free app that helps waste generators in the city connect to their closest primary scrap aggregator (kabadiwalla).

2. India's first smart Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that uses ICT (a set of android apps, call service and admin dashboard) to efficiently purchase recyclable waste from even the smallest aggregators in the ecosystem at a transparent price-point and ensuring pickup within 24 hours.

Our MRF provides a formal route for informal aggregators to sell to. We operate like a buying club offering the best prices to even the smallest of aggregators. We currently source PET plastic and after simple preprocessing and aggregation we sell to the polyester fabric industry.

We are planning to add to our product offering by developing an IoT bin that can integrate into our ICT platform. We also plan to develop a protocol that can pay waste-pickers directly through mobile money for the recyclable material place in the bin."

UPDATE (2018): Kabadiwalla Connect is an award-winning waste management technology services provider based in Chennai, India. The company works to streamline the recovery of post-consumer waste in cities in the developing world.

The company deploys technology that integrates the informal waste ecosystem into the reverse-logistics supply chain; providing waste management companies, municipalities and companies interested in Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) the ability to leverage this ecosystem in the recovery of post-consumer waste.

The company's approach to developing a cheaper and more inclusive reverse logistics network in the Global South has been recognised by The Ellen Macarthur Foundation, MIT, Dubai Expo2020, The World Bank, The World Economic Forum, and the Launch Circular Innovation Ecosystem.

CONTACT: [email protected]

Images: