Thanks to the India’s immense waste generating capabilities, it also has one of the largest waste management industries on the planet. Abhay Deshpande saw this as a prime entrepreneurial opportunity and decided to seize it. It was out of this that ‘Recykal’ was born in 2017.
Recykal: New Beginnings
In its toddler years, the brand revolved around working with rag pickers who collected waste from residential homes and sold that to recycling centres. To streamline that process, Recykal launched the ‘UZED’ application, which allowed households to schedule the pickups. The only issue with this approach was reliance on households. The amount of waste they produced was not enough for the recyclers to operate sustainably.
The gap lied in the fact that the waste management and recycling value chain had several stages and multiple parties to it. For example, ragpickers, waste collection centres, municipalities, recycling centres and so on. Considering the existence of all these factors, Deshpande realised that a single app could not cover all the bases.
Also considering the fact that recyclers needed a constant supply of bulk waste to operate at a profit, Recykal’s focus shifted towards bulk waste producers who produce a minimum of 10 kilograms of waste per day in order to meet the needs of recyclers. Thanks to this revelation the company changed its business model in 2019 to a B2B model that was aimed at addressing the needs of all parties in the recycling value chain.
India has one of the largest and most untapped waste management industries in the world. Recykal's digital-first approach is a pioneering one to say the least.
How Recykal Is Bridging the Industry Gap
Since their pivot to the new business model, they have cut into the stagnant market with an innovative edge and become an end-to-end digital solutions provider. The brand facilitates transactions and coordinates movement between all parties and stakeholders in the waste management and recycling value chain.
Everyone from waste generators, processors, recyclers to bulk waste-producing business owners are connected through the platform. The aim of Recykal is to establish a streamlined waste management process for businesses in India as well as address issues such as demand-supply mismatch and the lack of transparency/traceability of transactions in the waste management industry.
The issue with the waste management industry is that it is dominated by the informal sector. This creates an environment where a lot of the transactions are offline and in cash, making them untraceable. It also makes the sector highly unorganised and lacking a formal economical structure. There is a good chance that at some point or another you would have come across the term ‘digital divide’. It is the term that was coined to describe the extreme gap or divide that exists in India where we have a country so densely populated but a digital structure that does not match the population capacity of the country. In such an instance, the waste management value chain is severely fragmented, which leaves stakeholders to operate in isolated silos with little to no information. This in turn leads to a lack of information on material availability, low recycling capacities, mishandling of waste and more of the waste reaching landfills instead of the recycling centres.
This is where Recykal steps in. This brand operates as a digital platform that aims to close the gap in the industry through the use of digital technology integration.
What Does Recykal Bring to The Table?
Recykal as a brand and as a product has a lot to offer the waste management industry in terms of services. They operate a cloud-based digital platform that connects large-scale waste generators like FMCG companies, electronic manufacturers (e-waste specifically) and even hospitality firms like large hotels with heavy-duty recyclers whose livelihoods depend on the steady supply of waste materials.
What the online platform offers is a single location where the recyclers and stakeholders can simply log in and purchase the materials instead of dealing with the unorganised and fragmented segment of individual vendors. Through the use of the Recykal, these large-scale waste generators can schedule on-demand pickups with their preferred recycler while earning a cost-benefit of up to 20 per cent. This is made possible as all the middlemen are cut out, which saves a lot of cost at the end of the day.
Recykal currently works with over 100 recyclers who collaborate and communicate with over 1000 businesses. Some of the most notable clients include Infosys, Accor Hotels, BigBasket, Honda, Maruti Suzuki and even Spar Supermarkets to name a few.
In terms of pure scalability, the platform sees over 10,000 metric tonnes of waste materials being exchanged across India every month. The company itself predicts that this number will reach over 100,000 metric tonnes a month in the next two or three years.
Core Products and Platforms
Recykal is primarily a cloud-based platform that connects waste aggregators and recyclers in a streamlined process as stated above. Apart from this primary function, however, the brand also carries an app called ‘Recykal Marketplace’. The function of this app, which was released in early September 2019, is similar to the cloud-based platform. Some of the key features of the application include giving aggregators the ability to create or make an offer based on inventory requirements, allowing users to view their order status and upload documents related to the order as well as execute online transactions. All these features come under the ambit of the brand’s focus, which is, 100 per cent transparency and traceability of funds, materials and transaction histories.
It even helps you categorise the type of waste into three broad segments which are plastic, paper or e-waste. Under these segments, one can even choose subcategories that specify the exact nature of the waste materials.
Upon selecting the kind of materials that you wish to sell off, you can also put in an offer price for each kilogram of material. This makes the app a highly streamlined and incentive-driven model. Apart from all the features, the best part of the application is that it is streamlined and user-friendly interface make it easy to operate.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Loop is a digital exchange platform where brands can find and conduct transactions with PROs (Producer Responsibility Organisation) and recyclers who deal specifically in e-waste and plastics across India. This platform allows you to set your ERP target according to your preferred type of material and geography and delegate the target and distribute work orders to these PROs or whichever service provider you choose.
Additionally, you can also track the progress of those target fulfilments, making sure if they are carried out as expected and you can track the status of the logistics. Other features include getting instant notifications through SMS or email as well as the complete management and review of documentation like delivery challans, invoices, images of transport vehicles to make sure they meet your specifications and needs.
Smart Centre Solutions
This platform is more anchored towards the waste aggregators, the Dry Resource Collection Centres (DRCCs) and material recovery facilities. It aims to help digitise and streamline the day-to-day operations such as record keeping, transaction tracking, inventory management, logistics management, client onboarding, order management, digital payments and overall market monitoring. The cloud-based nature of it means that there is better success in sight if you were to consider scalability due to the cost-efficient nature of the platform.
Here is how it helps in each one of the above-mentioned areas:
- Inventory Management: It tracks the inbound and outbound recyclable inventory and creates matching purchase/sales receipts.
- Order Management:As the name suggests it manages the orders and pickup requests you place.
- Logistics Management:It helps configure your logistics as per your business’s collections, especially when it comes to third-party collections. A benefit of this is it brings down the overall cost by streamlining the process with pickup assignments and route optimisation.
- Client/Partner Onboarding: This aspect of the platform lets you register and manage the details of the waste pickers, generators and the end-recyclers in terms of supply/demand and identity validation. This lends itself to the complete visibility of the value chain and the members involved.
UZED Mobile App
As mentioned earlier, this was Recykal’s first iteration of a waste management system that was implemented. Unlike all the other platforms that were so business-oriented and catered to the bulk-waste producers, UZED targeted the average household consumer. The application allowed consumers to dispose of recyclable waste through a pickup service and online incentive scheme. Additionally, the app is also used by big brands, schools and colleges to implement takeback and engagement programs.
The app’s simple interface makes operating it a breeze as all you have to do is list the recyclable material that you want to be picked up, schedule the pickup and once the materials are picked up from the location, you get instant points into your account which can be redeemed in the form of gift cards.
Though Recykal is a young company, it has lots of potential to grow given that it is tackling and trying to restructure the industry as we know it. This could prove far more successful than anything the industry giants are doing.
The Overview: What Makes It Stand Out?
The waste management industry is a massive beast, more akin to a behemoth just going by the sheer size of it. Coming in at an estimated $ 13.4 Billion (according to Recykal’s Official website), the industry has a lot of room for innovation and business opportunities. Having said that, this sector is heavily saturated with start-ups looking to make a name for themselves. This leaves Recykal right in the middle of a competition-heavy industry.
Some of the top names in the industry are companies like Eco-wise, Vermigold, Synergy Waste Management (P) Ltd and A2Z Group, just to name a few. Yes, these are established names in the industry and are financially massive compared to the recently formed Recykal.
In fact, if you were to look at Recykal’s financials you would see that it is still in the seed funding stage and raised a total of $ 2 Million in June of 2019 from Triton Investment Advisors and the family office of Pidilite Industries. Even though it may not be a unicorn, it is a ‘sooni-corn’ in the sense that it has the potential for exponential growth.
Recykal stands out for one reason, its uniqueness as a business. While the other industry giants offer facilities, logistical support, volunteer and labour-power for clean-up projects, Recykal offers something better, a network. It offers everyone involved in the waste management industry a chance to get connected with one another and thereby bring order to this severely fragmented and structureless system.
The innovation aside, Recykal recently joined hands with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) in June of 2020 for Project Prithvi, which is a joint initiative for developing sustainable plastic waste management practices in the country. This initiative not only focuses on promoting better recycling practices and channelisation of the waste, but it also focuses on the development of the informal sector through activities such as providing soft-skills training, the opening of bank accounts, enabling digital transactions for waste pickers, kabadiwalas, aggregators and so on.
Abhay Deshpande has always been a serial entrepreneur since he stepped foot into the world of business in 1998 with one of India’s first e-commerce platforms ‘Malamall.com’. After building and selling a number of successful ventures he got into the world of tech start-ups as they were just reaching popularity, and that is when he saw the golden goose that was the massive, untapped potential of the waste management sector. Hence, with the help of his associates Abhishek Deshpande and Anirudha Jalan, he started Recykal with the aim of bringing innovation and structure to this primary informal sector.
Given that digitisation since the onset of the pandemic has become a norm of sorts and will likely continue to play a major role in all our lives, it only stands to reason that a platform like Recykal will see tremendous growth and success if it continues down the path of digital transformation in a sector that has never seen its kind before. In that sense, this Hyderabad-based company is already a unicorn in its own right.
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