India’s trash is witnessing a huge spike due to Covid-19 and lockdown, as home deliveries and e-commerce are becoming the most preferred mode of shopping. Amid this, a few startups are trying to give a solution in form of refills giving consumers an option to reduce save planet, cheaper costs and reduce country’s carbon footprints.
These startups are still in nascent stage with a small team of less than 10 people and trying to scale up their operations, which stopped due to lockdowns and restricted movements. If these startups are to be believe refill helps you to reduce the product costs anywhere between 10-30%.
One such is Mumbai-based Refillable. It is like milkman delivery but for soap, dishwashing liquid, detergents. What one needs is to carry your own bottle or vessel and top up it. You pay for the product only and save on logistics, packaging and bottles.
Mumbai-based Purav Desai, co-founder of Refillable claims that each time you refill, you save 50 gms of plastic from entering the ocean. Since the pandemic has rocked the world, there has been 47 % hike in use of plastics with the use of sanitizer bottles and packaging materials due to home deliveries. We are still in pilot stage with 350 households and clocked Rs 3 lakh plus revenue in tenure of around a quarter. He adds that the company is using a CNG vehicle to reduce the carbon footprint and as the idea scales up, electric vehicles would replace the CNG vehicle.
Desai is in talks with several VCs and investors and some FMCG companies too to scale up the idea. Apart from it, he has been getting several queries for franchise model that he is still weighing.
Just a thousand kilometres away, another startup Cleanlabel is piloting another model for refill, but with a twist claiming to be India’s first zero-waste grocery company. The company delivers all its products in glass bottles, cotton bags and steel boxes that can be return with a small refundable deposit. Once you are done, just drop the containers in tote bag that company provides and when your next order is deliver, simply swap the old containers for new one and get your deposit back. The company sterilizes the old packages and put them back on shelf.
Shyam Sunder, Cofounder and CEO of Cleanlabel says that they are still in prelaunch stage with around 200 people tapped over an area of 8 kilometer radius. They will relaunch the platform in next fortnight as it was put on hold due to lockdown and the small team falling sick.
Shyam says, “We are particular about economics. A business model has to be sustainable. We directly source from farmers and cut intermediaries, that leaves us with margins between 10% and 25% in various product categories. It is high for beverage and dryfruits and relatively low for cereals and pulses.” He adds that company is also providing certified organic products.
According to Planning Commission Urban India generates around 62 million tonnes of waste annually and it is predicted to increase to 165 million tonnes by 2030. Notably, only 43 million of this is collected annually out of which 31 million is dumped at the landfill sites and 11.9 million is treated as per the environment ministry reports.