Dharthi Sustainables: Getting Down to the Roots of Solid Waste Management in India

Hemanth Maley, CEO & Director,PV Ashrith, CSO

Hemanth Maley, CEO & Director

The subcontinent’s solid waste management (SWM) system is notorious for its arid performance. But remember, despite being the second largest population in the world, India is not even amongst the top-10 garbage producing countries. While our almost 400 million urban population generate 62 million ton of solid waste per annum, the woe in truth is our centralized SWM system, wherein only 43 million of the waste is collected, 11.9 million is treated, and the rest 31 million is dumped in landfill sites haphazardly! Amidst the flaws in strategy, planning & execution, the smoking gun really is the lack of waste segregation (dry & wet) at the source.

The interventions of the union government over the last few years have been promising with an increasing number of public-private partnerships (PPP) established in the sector. With the milieu being favorable, deploying a unique decentralized waste management model is Hyderabad-based social enterprise–Dharthi Sustainable Pvt.Ltd.,which manifests exceptionally pragmatic situation awareness. The greater understanding enables Dharthi to deploy a more effective & meticulous solution by creating awareness in Households (to do Segregation at Source), establishing Dry Resource Collection Centers (DRCC) to support segregation, incentivizing Rag Pickers, and most importantly, by facilitating transportation to its own state-of-the-art processing facility. The result has been astonishing with a large number of colonies in Hyderabad boasting of 100 percent waste segregation!

While Hyderabad gradually turns around its approach towards waste management through such collective initiatives, playing a catalytic role is the progressive attitude of corporate organizations like Godrej Consumer Products Ltd; a perfect example being its recent CSR project with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). Having Perceived Dharthi’s focus on the segment & skills to harvest technology, Godrej had no second thought in joining hands with it to execute a project that intended to establish 10 Swachh centres for wet & dry waste segregation. Within the stipulated time period, Dharthi executed the project to perfection, contributing towards Godrej’s mission to build a Circular Economy Model, which will be the first-of-its-kind in the country.

“After the fruitless Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) Rules of 2000, it took 14 years for our country to declare war on Solid Wastes. The launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) in 2014 and a stringent revision of SWM Rules in 2016 have finally mandated not only the waste segregation, but also the requirement of an in-house waste management facility for all the complexes generating more than 100 kg of waste per day. This is a great omen,” asserts Hemanth Maley, Director, Dharthi Sustainables. Under the aegis of Hemanth and the chief strategist Ashrith Satya (CSO) Dharthi unveils a broad blueprint that compliments the country’s waste management mission, forming associations with clients like Godrej, Creamline Diary, Tata Projects Ltd., ITC, Ramky, GHMC, Alpla, and others.

Treatment Starts from the House holds
OECD countries (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – an inter governmental economic organization with 36 member countries) produce almost half of
the world’s waste. It makes real sense when you think more about it. The higher the disposable income, the more stuff people buy and throw away. Hence, as India expects to raise its living standards in the coming years, the problem is only going to get worse. No wonder the waste management market in the country is expected to be worth $13.62 billion by 2025, and this in turn widens the opportunity-horizons for effective solution providers like Dharthi.

Instead of papering over the cracks, Dharthi goes deep inside the craters and strives to solve the problem right at the source not only by creating awareness among the households to segregate the garbage, but also through facilitating robust infrastructure for them to accumulate the waste. Through a streamlined system, the company conveniently enables wet waste and dry waste disposal on a daily and weekly basis respectively.

Incentivizing Rag Pickers – the Game Changer
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem lies in the gap between the source and its destination – the processing facilities. In a country that over the years has witnessed almost no garbage segregation at the source, the biggest hand in the process is played by the unorganized and nominally paid Rag Pickers in the country. While their numbers are estimated between 1.5 million and four million, the entire community is often left with no IDs or Aadhaar cards, space for segregating waste or even gloves. Dharthi believes that a change in the approach is inevitable, and has created a well-devised infrastructure and a team to store, segregate & source dry waste in a way that Rag Pickers get monetary incentives. The company ensures an additional income of Rs.15,000-40,000 to Rag Pickers, which already impacts 100-300 families in Hyderabad. Furthermore, it also contributes Rs.1 lakh per month to enterprising rag pickers/NGOs who operate the collection centers called ‘Swacch Centers’.

While this approach aids in a streamlined transit of waste, Dharthi’s ability to deliver appropriate materials to appropriate scientific recycler culminates in more effective recovery. In fact, it brings about 15-18 percent of ROI in the recycling unit. Hemanth elucidates, “One of the major concerns is Plastic, which is available in a number of forms like containers, bottles, and carry bags. Our recycling facilities gather available recyclable plastic material in their area, including from roadside collections, special recycling bins, or even directly from the industries. In this way, both post-consumer and post-industrial plastic items are collected”. In this process, Dharthi ensures better revenue for rag pickers & scientific and positive environmental-economic impact in SWM.

State-of-the-art Integrated Facility
Dharthi’s state-of-the-art processing facilities, which can process 18,000 MT of dry & green waste per year, are well-equipped to treat the tons of waste incoming on a daily basis, ascertaining near-zero environmental damage. Its capacity includes, but not limited to, hydraulic-press compaction of green waste to bio-coal, double stage extrusion for recycling plastics, thermal non-catalytic depolymerization, and a highly innovative self-sustainable non-recyclable plastic waste processing technology.Additionally, since the input is predictable, it recovers most of the material in-house and ensures that extremely low volumes reach dump yards. Needless to say, this cuts-down the logistic cost for transportation as well as achieving on Fuel and Land at the landfill. At the business end, Dharthi converts the segregated plastic (both recyclable and non-recyclable) into plastic granules and fuels, which are sold to required parties. It proclaims reuse of 1800 MT of plastics every year. Thus, with sustainable models at all levels and by manifesting an end-to-end approach,this social
enterprise today impacts more than 50,000 households.

The Young Turks Impacting the Lives of Millions
Dharthi was founded in 2016 by a young team of entrepreneurs who are passionate about impacting the lives of people, and hence it goes beyond waste management to other avenues that progressively impact the environment. A few among them being Carbon conservation through afforestation, processing farm residues to stop open farm burning, and various social activities

PV Ashrith, CSO
like Food Security, and better live lihood initiatives for farmers & weaver communities. The young turks in fact were indulged in these activities informally for the past few years and now have decided to leave their high flying corporate careers to focus on social causes through Dharthi. Since they are looking forward to tripling the organization’s capacities in the next three months, it’s an assurance that a number of civilians are going to reap the harvest along with Dharthi.

Key Management:
Hemanth Maley, CEO & Director
Hemanth is a graduate in Physics and a Masters in Management. He possesses a technical & managerial experience of nearly 10 years across segments such as Government, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Information Technology, F&B, Energy, Social Empowerment, and Employ ability Development.

PV Ashrith, CSO
Ashrith holds a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh). As the chief strategist of Dharthi, he has been excellent with predictive analytics, leading to competitive business growth strategy, operational improvements, and investment decisions

Dharthi Sustainables in Spotlight:
•A social enterprise active in Waste Management, Afforestation and Farming of Barren lands & various other social consulting activities

•Awareness to segregate garbage at the household level

•Through incentivizing Rag Pickers, Dharthi ensures an additional income of Rs.15,000-40,000 to them, already affecting 100-300 families in Hyderabad

•Recovers most of the material in-house since the input is predictable

•Self Sustaining Model at All Levels

•Having the capacity to process 18000 MT of Dry Waste per year

•India’s only state-of-the-art integrated recycling facility operational is in partnership with Dharthi

•Recyclable Post Consumer Plastic waste converted to Plastic Granules – 6 TPD + 3 TPD (Under Expansion)

•Non-Recyclable Post Consumer Plastic Waste converted to Liquid Fuel – 7 TPD + 7 TPD (Under Expansion)

•Green Waste/Agri Residues converted to Bio Briquettes – 50 TPD

Quick Facts:
Year of Establishment:
Office: Hyderabad
•Waste Management
•Farming of Barren Lands
•Social Consulting Activities