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From Waste to Wealth: How Emerging Technologies are Reshaping the Reuse Landscape?

Well, there are hardly any people who don’t like mountains! But here is a mountain that might change your views.

Yes, it's a Waste Mountain which is crushing the country below its massive weight. This waste mountain is taller than Taj Mahal at present.

A landfill collapse in Ghazipur killed 2 people in 2017. India generates 1.5 million metric tons of waste every day! This is enough to construct 3 Burj Khalifas every day. Deonar’s dump yard has crossed a height of 14 floors right now.  Bengaluru, the city of lakes is home to ‘foaming lakes’ now.

In an era where the battle against climate change is reaching a critical juncture, the reuse industry has emerged as a champion in the fight for sustainability. India, along with the global community, is witnessing a surge in innovative technologies that are reshaping the way we perceive and practice reuse. From advanced reusing/recycling methods to cutting-edge materials, these innovations are not only transforming waste management but also paving the way for a more sustainable future.

  1. CARTON RECYCLING - By simply dropping off cartons at drop-points a major change can be initiated. You may find about the nearest drop-off point near you in India here. Safai Saathis sells these cartons to scrap dealers and earn an income. This also generates employment in the form of cleaning and sorting cartons. These cartons are further converted into sheets at recycling plants which are used to make furniture, auto rickshaw seats, classroom benches or even house roofs. A Mumbai-based organization called RUR Greenlife has collected more than 65 lakh cartons and recycled them and donated more than 400 school desks. 

  2. SMART SORTING TECHNOLOGIES - One of the significant challenges in the reuse industry has been the efficient sorting of waste materials. Enter smart sorting technologies – powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies are revolutionizing the recycling process by automating the sorting of materials based on composition, making the entire process faster and more accurate. In India, smart sorting machines are being deployed in waste management plants, reducing reliance on manual labor and increasing the efficiency of recycling facilities. Examples: Pello Systems monitors the fill-level of your trash cans and provides real-time information on the dumpsters’ contents and location. It also tells you if your container has been contaminated and sends pickup alerts when a collection is due. Ishitva Robotics Systems use computer vision to make sorting more efficient at different stages of the waste value chain. Their current solutions include SUKA AI-powered Air Sorting, YUTA AI-powered Robotic Sorting, Netra AI Vision system, and Smart bins.

  3. CHEMICAL RECYCLING - Traditional recycling methods often face limitations in handling certain types of plastics. Chemical recycling, however, offers a breakthrough solution. This innovative approach breaks down plastics into their molecular components, allowing for the creation of new, high-quality materials. India is witnessing a surge in chemical recycling startups, exploring ways to convert plastic waste into valuable resources and reduce the environmental impact of plastic pollution. Reliance Industries on 29th December 2023 announced that it has become the first Indian company to chemically recycle plastic waste-based pyrolysis oil into International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC)-Plus certified circular polymers.

  4. BLOCKCHAIN FOR TRANSPARENT SUPPLY CHAINS - Transparency in the reuse industry is crucial for building trust among consumers and stakeholders. Blockchain technology is being leveraged to create transparent supply chains, enabling consumers to trace the journey of recycled materials from collection to the production of new products. This not only enhances accountability but also incentivizes responsible practices throughout the entire reuse ecosystem. REVERSE is a cleantech platform mainstreaming reusability, backed by blockchain. 

  5. INNOVATIVE MATERIALS - The development of new and sustainable materials is a key aspect of transforming the reuse industry. Bio-based plastics, mushroom-based packaging, and other eco-friendly alternatives are gaining popularity. These materials not only reduce the environmental impact but also provide viable alternatives to traditional, less sustainable options.

  6. WASTE-TO-ENERGY SOLUTIONS - Waste-to-energy technologies are emerging as a sustainable means of generating power from waste materials. In India, projects are underway to convert organic waste into biogas and other forms of renewable energy. These initiatives not only address the issue of waste management but also contribute to the generation of clean energy, fostering a more holistic approach to sustainability. Examples: Scrap Now is the first and only online portal in India where you can sell all your electronic scrap which is occupying your space for cash. The collected scrap is sent to the factory and is processed in a systematic manner which is as per safety norms all the scrap are recycled through different methods. Paterson Energy is a Waste to Energy start-up Company, recycling plastic waste into quality Plastic Oil using a continuous type Thermochemical Depolymerization Technology, with a processing capacity of 3TPD – 20TPD (Tons /Day).

As the world grapples with the environmental challenges posed by excessive waste generation, the reuse industry stands at the forefront of innovation. The technologies and innovations discussed above are reshaping the landscape of waste management, propelling us towards a more sustainable and circular future. India, along with the global community, has the opportunity to embrace these advancements and lead the way in building a world where waste is not just a problem but a valuable resource waiting to be rediscovered. The journey towards a greener, more sustainable planet is being paved by the relentless pursuit of innovation in the reuse industry.

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