There have been so many problems going on around the world that we all have to come together as a community to sort these issues for a safer future of the world. The level of emissions and waste, especially plastic waste, has increased all over the world at a rapid rate. People have been using plastic for so many years, and often people leave waste materials wherever they visit. This waste then ends up in odd places and in oceans, which is causing harm to the environment.
Animals and marine ecosystems are getting choked by these plastic bits and wastes, which is causing issues in the atmosphere around us. Aditya Siroya, along with his friends – Peter Hjemdahl and Svanika Balasubramanian, visited Deonar in Mumbai a few years back. It is Asia’s second-largest landfill, and the trio visited that place with massive difficulty as they covered their nose while walking through the thick fumes of burning plastic. The view from there was vast mountains of plastic, and on the other end, there was the city’s skyline.
This was the moment when they realized that something has to be changed about society and the way society produces waste daily. Every individual American citizen, on average, produces 231 pounds of plastic waste out of which, most of the waste goes to landfills or oceans or shipped off to countries in Global South with lax environmental regulations and dumped there.
Eight million tons of plastic waste is dumped into the sea every year, and this causes adverse health effects that we don’t even know to the full extent. This was when rePurpose was launched by the trio to help the people by forming a global community to spread awareness about this ongoing crisis.
Entrepreneurs behind the project
Aditya hopes to use his entrepreneurial instinct to bring a social change. He oversees the growth and partnerships at rePurpose with frugal innovation. A former Dalberg consultant, Aditya is a serial entrepreneur who has previously founded an education enterprise.
Chinese-Norwegian by birth, Peter’s passion includes tackling environmental degradation, and he oversees the B2C department for rePurpose and has a knack for understanding the psyche of the millennial consumer. Working as an ex-consultant for Dalberg, Peter has worked in various development sectors, from healthcare in Ethiopia to affordable housing in Singapore.
Belonging to the Middle-East and a family of activists, she oversees the B2B vertical with sharp creative problem-solving accuracy. She worked with Deloitte as a consultant and in finance with Morgan and Stanley in New York City. However, destiny had different plans for her as she found herself following her passion for social entrepreneurship.
What is rePurpose?
rePurpose is a global community that consists of consumers and businesses going PlasticNeutral that would reduce waste, revive lives, and restore balance. The platform is the first crediting platform that helps the world to make things easy and impactful climate action by financing for the crucial infrastructure. They provide unique solutions for pioneering companies that are working in the direction of reducing plastic pollution.
The solutions offered by the startup are:
1. PlasticNeutral products
They help consumers brands measure the plastic footprints of their product by intercepting and recycling an equivalent amount of ocean-bound plastic waste with their vetted recycling social enterprises in India.
This is a tick-box that is available at the time of checkout for e-commerce retailers that are offering a service or product with a plastic footprint, and the customers can add a tip of $0.3-$0.8 and help to balance out the issues.
Every $0.5 that is contributed through their platform, they guarantee that an additional kg of plastic waste is recycled instead of letting it dump in the ocean. The firm works with vetted recycling social enterprises in Asia, which starts from 5 cities in India. The organizations are well-equipped to deal with the plastic menace that is across the developing world. Still, they are often underfunded and unable to increase their social and environmental impact. PlasticNeutral contributions from the individuals and businesses help them uplift the waste pickers from poverty and keep plastic away from the environment.
The challenges faced in the initial stage
The biggest problem for them was to ensure ethical and environmentally rigorous standards throughout the ecosystem. They wanted to make sure that there is no exploitation at the facilities that they are working in India. They are the world’s first Plastic Credit Working Group convened by Verra to help shape the standards of how to govern plastic offsets.
They are the first one to be in this market, but with branding and marketing, they are trying to spread awareness and bring a market solution which is helpful in current conditions. They take 1-3 months for sales whenever they are working with any businesses. The strategies they use to combat this are picking industries from food, consumer accessories, and beauty products. They plan to target and identify big leads to be on their radar and close the deal in the given time.
Collaborations and the first milestone for them
They are working and have worked with several experienced waste management enterprises in India, such as Saahas Zero Waste, Waste Ventures India, as well as they have worked outside India with THREAD International (Haiti) and Taka Taka Solutions (Kenya). These organizations are pioneers in establishing an ethical and efficient circular economy.
The first milestone for the firm was when they bagged the first set of customers and conducting their first plastic offset projects through their waste management partners on the ground. They have been working with leading socially and environmentally conscious brands in India like Trice Community, The Moms Co, and Ekam Eco Solutions, and its been a pleasant experience for them.
The current growth and the vision
They developed a flexible offset framework and executed partnerships with waste management initiatives in India, Kenya, Colombia, and Haiti. They built an elegant B2C website and launched the site into the market six months ago. They tested this product in four different markets, and they’ve had success in all the markets where they mobilized 14,000 consumers who have engaged with a plastic footprint calculator. They established the “tick-box” service with eight e-commerce retailers and sold it to 2 brands.
In conversation with TimesNext, Aditya passionately talks about how they want to reimagine the world as the one where the consumers and brands find easy solutions and take responsibility for the plastic footprint. A world where the waste management enterprises have resources to maximize their environmental impact, and one where the waste workers are no longer marginalized in society.
They wish to be closer to the ideal vision on all fronts in the coming two years and have over 75,000 PlasticNeutral individuals onboard with them. This way, they would be able to create new jobs for hundreds of former waste pickers with social security, health insurance, and help them rise above from their current situation.