The serene beauty of the hills in Manali and Dharamshala are marred with the sight of a humongous pile of single-use plastic bottles. If the average water consumption of humans is approximately 3.7 litres meaning 4 bottles, imagine the amount of single-use plastic generated while travelling as we will sweat more. During the peak tourist season in Manali, the hikers and tourists leave behind a trail of plastic that amounts to approximately 30-40 tonnes of plastic waste each day.
The numbers about plastic management in India are frightening as the study conducted by Un-Plastic Collective (UPC) reveals that India generates about 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, out of which 40 percent remains uncollected and 43 percent is used for packaging, most of which is single-use. Most single-use plastic is recyclable but lacks recycling infrastructure where they end up in water bodies or landfills. On a global level itself, only 9 percent of the plastic is recycled.
Two Hyderabad techies, realising the poor plastic recycling infrastructure and the ever-growing plastic waste menace, have decided to fight it by launching a biodegradable water packaging solution – Caro Water.
What is Caro Water?
Caro Water, started in June 2021, is the brainchild of two techies -Suneeth Tatineni and Chaitanya Ayinapudi, who after working in the corporate for five years decided to start their entrepreneurial journey in the sustainability and environment space, by coming up with environment-friendly water packaging solutions.
According to Un-Plastic Collective (UPC) India generates about 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, out of which 40 percent remains uncollected and 43 percent is used for packaging, most of which is single-use.
What Does Caro Water Solve?
Being techies, they could have easily begun their entrepreneurial journey in the technology space but what attracted them to create sustainable water packaging solutions is the single-use plastic generated by the distance travellers. A person will buy a minimum of five one-litre water bottles, which will not be collected and recycled. Caro Water packs water in corrugated cardboard boxes that contain 85 percent cardboard and 15 percent plastic – due to nozzle and the coating of the box with rest recyclable.
They have partnered with local recycling units in the city. Caro Water boxes are available in 5L, 10 L and 20 L packaging.
They are also providing clean water fortified with minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium and copper that get lost during the filtration process. This initiative was their response to witnessing dirty water cans being supplied to the workplaces raising questions on the quality of water contained in such plastic cans.
How does Caro Water solve the water availability in the outdoors?
Caro Water has developed its app, where a consumer can book their water box and track their order. They also offer a subscription model where water boxes will be delivered as per the requested frequency. The users’ e-wallet is incentivised with Rs 5 upon returning empty cardboard boxes after usage.
What Lies Ahead for the startups in eco-friendly packaging solutions?
The startups in the eco-friendly water packaging space can find ample business opportunities in the below markets:
- Catering and food services
- Hotels and hospitality sector
- Canteens and food courts
- Tourist location food joints
- Hiking and adventure companies
- Film and shooting studios
- Offices and commercial spaces
- Beverage and juice brands
- Sports events
With the emerging behaviour of revenge travelling and workation, the tourist destinations can witness an influx of tourists generating more plastic waste, which creates the market for them. However, the packaging companies should strategise about the effective recycling and collection of packages after usage, easy transportability and handling design in terms of handles and mounting stands. Cost can be crucial since a 20 L plastic costs Rs 25 whereas a water box Caro Water 20 L costs Rs 120 which is almost 5 times.
Besides cardboard, sustainable solutions in packaging are also possible from agricultural resources like corn starch (thermoplastic starch) blended with various other biodegradable polymers of which Aggarwal Biotech is a pioneer.