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Recykal: Transforming Waste Management Industry with Digitally Empowered Solutions

Facilitating Sustainability and Circularity for Corporates, Government Agencies, and Waste Aggregators

Recykal, led by its Founder and CEO Abhay Deshpande, is a tech pioneer in digitally empowered solutions for circularity and sustainability. The company took on the challenge of transforming informal waste management practices by introducing technology-driven solutions that enable the integration of informal waste pickers and aggregators into the formal waste management sector. The Odyssey began with the idea of establishing a circular economy. With its efficient waste management solutions, Recykal has been able to streamline the informal waste management sector by ensuring transparency, traceability, and fair pricing for waste materials. It is committed to supporting a circular economy that balances economic growth with environmental protection and community development. Recykal is facilitating circularity and sustainability for corporates, brands, government agencies, and waste aggregators as a pathway toward establishing effective waste management practices. Furthermore, Recykal is strongly advocating the adoption of sustainable waste management practices, ensuring that they are more systematic, effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

Let us delve deeper into the insights of Recykal!

In conversation with Abhay Deshpande, Founder and CEO, Recykal

Can you provide us with a concise overview of your company, its goals, and the critical factors driving its achievements?

Recykal, a tech startup based in Hyderabad, India, offers smart solutions for enabling the circular economy and sustainability. Introducing technology-driven solutions that enable the integration of all the stakeholders of the waste management ecosystem, Recykal has created an inclusive ecosystem that formalizes the informal sector and provides access to growth opportunities. Innovation is a key factor contributing to Recykal’s success, as the company continuously explores new technologies and approaches to streamline waste management and remains committed to staying ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability practices.

Another key factor contributing to our success is our emphasis on collaboration. We work closely with our partners and clients to design customized solutions that meet their unique needs and support their sustainability goals. These solutions power the largest Circularity Marketplace in Asia, channelizing more than 50,000MT/month. Our Technology, Data Reporting solutions help Brands, Governments, Policymakers, Organizations, and Communities adopt sustainable practices while creating social, economic, and environmental impact at scale.

Recykal’s circularity ecosystem connects Waste Generators (Businesses, Consumers), Waste Processors (Aggregators, Informal Sectors), and Recyclers and enables transactions between them, bringing transparency and traceability to the ecosystem.

Could you provide a brief of your background and the journey that motivated you to your current position in the company?

In 1998, I started, which launched in a market that was not ready for it at the time. However, I learned a lot from this experience. Later in 2007, we formed a SaaS company called Martjack, which worked with companies like Pizza Hut, Walmart, and Future Group. Eight years later, it was acquired by Capillary Technologies. Even after the success of Martjack, I still felt the hunger to create something even more purposeful and impactful. Hence, after deep research, I decided that waste management could be the next big thing for me. Therefore, along with Abhishek Deshpande and Anirudha Jalan, we started Recykal in 2017. Later, Ekta Narain and Vikram Prabakar also joined our journey.

Now we have a PAN India presence with the largest and most digitally integrated network of brands, recyclers, waste aggregators, and government agencies in Recykal’s Ecosystem.

What is the specialty of your unique offerings, and how does it contribute to maintaining the company’s excellent position in the industry?

Our Products:

  • Sustainability Solutions: A suite of solutions empowering enterprises to achieve Net Zero, drive behavioral change, and deliver measurable impact on sustainability.

1) EPR Loop: Helps track and trace and fulfill EPR targets, transactions, and performance and enables brands to run their consumer awareness programs and also comply with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) rules outlined by the government.

2) Plastic Neutrality: A solution for zeroing the plastic footprint of businesses.

  • Circularity: Helps digitize industrial waste management operations with ease and provides a bird’s eye view of multi-facility operations.
  • Deposit Refund System: Drive behavioral change among consumers to reduce littering.
  • Smart Skan: Revolutionizes segregation at the source using AI-built waste data models.
  • Smart Center: A solution for digitizing waste management centers
  • Awareness Programs: Tech-driven sustainability learning for impactful employee and other stakeholder transformations.
  • Circularity Marketplace: A managed marketplace for recyclables that helps aggregators and recyclers digitally transform their business with AI-driven prediction of material rates, quality, and profitability-driven buyer-seller mapping with fast payment and hassle-free logistics.

We operate in these categories: Plastic, paper, metal, e-waste, tyre, and batteries.

How does Recykal help brands, recyclers, and for government agencies?

Recykal Provides Circularity and Sustainability Solutions to Brands, Recyclers, and Govt. Agencies with a set of digitally empowered tools that can be further customized for effective waste management.

  1. Brands: Recykal helps brands implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) compliance, which requires brands to take responsibility for the disposal of their products after they have been used. Recykal offers a variety of services to help brands achieve this goal, including setting up recycling programs, tracking metrics, and implementing effective communication strategies. Brands can also run take-back programs to become plastic-neutral.

Recykal offers IT Asset Disposal services for brands with heavy IT inventory. With 100% secure data erasure, privacy protection, refurbishing/reuse services for the equipment, if possible, and Recykal takes care of recycling the remaining e-waste responsibly. This process helps to reduce the environmental impact caused by electronic waste and offers a comprehensive solution for e-waste management.

  1. Recyclers: Recykal’s Marketplace connects the recyclers and sellers of plastic/paper/metal/e-waste scrap to transact efficiently in a single platform. Recykal Marketplace solves the challenges of consistent material supply, timely payments for sellers, and traceability and transparency in transactions for recyclers. With our marketplace, we are bridging the gap between demand and supply and building an Amazon for sellers & buyers alike.
  2. Government Agencies: Recykal helps government agencies monitor and enforce regulations related to waste management and recycling. e.g., Recykal digitizes Material Recovery Facilities as Smart Centres with the implementation of “Smart Skan” an AI-powered waste analytics and sorting program. For the implementation of Smart Skan, QR-coded plastic bags are distributed to households, and only dry waste is collected in these bags. These bags are collected, and the waste is segregated into different categories at the MRF (Material Recovery Facility) center with Smart Skan. Smart Skan is aimed at preventing the contamination of plastic by keeping it separate from wet waste and educating users on the importance of responsible waste management. It induces behavioral change amongst consumers toward proper waste disposal, provides information on recycling options, and allows government agencies to track waste back to the generator.

Apart from Smart Skan, Recykal’s Digital DRS (Deposit Refund System) is benefitting Municipal Corporations and other government bodies in India. Digital DRS involves providing serial unique identification codes (SUIN) to distributors of consumer goods, which are then affixed to the product packaging. Customers are required to pay a refundable deposit at the point of purchase, which varies from Rs. 2 to 10 depending on the type of packaging material. When the packaging material is returned to the collection center after usage, customers are refunded the deposit upon scanning the SUIN. This cycle of waste collection and recycling ensures the circularity of waste materials, promoting sustainability and responsible waste disposal habits among residents and tourists. The digital DRS system applies to various types of product packaging, including chip packets, water and cold drink bottles, sachets, shampoo and other personal care product bottles, tetra packs, milk packets, aluminum cans, and glass containers.

How does the Recykal Foundation contribute to changes that promote sustainability and enable a circular economy?

Recykal aims to make a positive impact on the stakeholders involved in the waste management sector by working closely with waste collectors and providing them with safety training and opportunities to increase their income. One of our verticals, ‘Recykal Foundation,’ focuses on educating the community about the concept of the circular economy, raising awareness through campaigns, and increasing efficiency in waste management practices. Recykal Foundation collaborates with other organizations to educate people on recycling and responsible waste management. Through outreach programs that include tailor-made activities and CSR initiatives, Recykal encourages people to participate in waste reduction activities.

How do you measure the success of your sustainable waste management initiatives?

Recykal’s unique, integrated approach marks India’s first digital circularity and sustainability company that connects waste generators with waste processors and recyclers, and brand owners to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry. Today, we have 210+ brands, 325+ recyclers and co-processors, 10,000+ businesses, 190+ urban local bodies, 3000+ service providers, and aggregators associated with us. We have channelized 4,00,000 + MT of material.

Our efforts for revolutionizing the waste-commerce sector with digital innovations led to recognition as a “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum; other honors include The Economic Times’ Award as India’s Growth Champions 2023, Excellence in Waste Management as a PRO by the CII 3R Awards and Best Soonicorn by Business World. Recykal has made the list of Financial Times’ Top 500 High-Growth Companies Asia Pacific 2023 with 6th rank, and also listed among the top 5 players in Fast Company’s 50 most innovative companies in APAC region, Recykal’s digital DRS (Deposit Refund System) won the Digital India Award 2022 for plastic halting at the holy pilgrimage site Kedarnath in association with the Govt. of Uttarakhand.

As an inventive leader, what advice would you give to other companies looking to implement sustainable waste management practices?

Our advice would be to start small, focus on education and communication, leverage technology, and work with industry experts who can guide you toward the best waste management practices and solutions. Companies can embrace circular economy principles that focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling resources to minimize waste generation. Another approach can be, engaging employees in sustainability practices and partnering with waste management firms that can accelerate the company’s sustainability efforts. Conducting regular audits and measurements of waste management’s effectiveness to monitor progress and identify opportunities for ongoing improvement. By doing so, companies can make a significant impact on reducing waste and contributing to a more sustainable future.

How do you envision scaling your organization’s services and operations in 2023 and beyond?

Recykal’s vision is to channel 5% of India’s waste into a circular economy. We have made inroads into new categories like tyres and batteries and aim to grow their volume similar to what we have done in plastics, e-waste, and paper. We plan to implement dDRS in multiple ULBs and even a state-level implementation.

It can be inferred from the environmental policies enforced by developed and developing countries that the volume and scope of recycling will continue to grow in the next 25 years. Upon achieving the set goals, recycling has the potential to become the thought leader in the clean-tech and sustainability space.