While describing the traits of social entrepreneurs, Bill Drayton, an American social entrepreneur, said, “The first – the most obvious (test of a true social entrepreneur) – is they are possessed, really possessed by an idea… The idea – making it happen across society – is something they are married to in the full sense of the word.”
That’s exactly what we felt when we met Lalit Rathi – a social entrepreneur and an initiator of a recycling movement! Our encounter with him was a pivotal opportunity to look over the waste management scenario in Pune city.
Mr. Lalit Rathi right from his office “Clean Garbage Management Pvt. Ltd, Pune”
Lalit Rathi is one of the pioneers in the field of waste management and recycling of dry waste in Pune city. With the experience of over 35 years, Rathi started his work in Plastic Recycling in the year 1981. The initiative evolved over time as he started working in Commercial Plastic Recycling from the year 1984. “Plastic is eco-friendly because every form of plastic can be recycled,” says Rathi. With this thought, he started the movement of spreading awareness about plastic recycling, in the year 1990.
Recycling industry started to be recognized with the 2006 Mithi flood in Mumbai. The flood was a direct consequence of use and throw plastic materials. The heavy rains increased the water level and Mithi river was blocked with all kinds of waste and sewage. Around 1,000 gallons of sewage and waste was flowing through the streets of Mumbai. A detail investigation on Mithi flood concluded that Plastic was contributing to the majority of waste. And it was the major reason for the river blockage. This incident paved a way for new laws in plastic recycling. Meanwhile, Rathi had studied plastic recycling methods critically and worked on various innovative ideas.
Compressed dry waste from Clean Garbage Management Pvt. Ltd ready to be transported to the industries
With these continuous efforts and consistent study about recycling, he was successful in producing synthetic wood from plastic waste. “The things we ignore often possess hidden values. Synthetic wood is one of the hidden treasures from plastic recycling and I urge people to become more knowledgeable about this emerging sector,” he says.
As a social entrepreneur, Rathi has always paved ways to create employment opportunities along with his expertise in recycling industry. In 2006, he introduced a scheme of purchasing 1kg plastic waste for 86 paise from every ward of the Pune city and later recycle the same. Rathi had worked hard to expand this 86 paise scheme but as the hard work didn’t meet the right opportunity, this scheme was forgotten with time.
Rise of a Social Entrepreneur
Dry waste segregation on a conveyer belt in the segregation plant of Clean Garbage Management Pvt. Ltd.
Having worked in different recycling sectors and with an undying desire to extract valuable material from waste, Rathi started his own venture in the year 2010. This is how ‘Clean Garbage Management’ was born. It brought in innovation and a new outlook in the plastic recycling industry.
‘Clean Garbage Management’ collects dry waste and wet garden waste from various parts of Pune and further puts them into recycling. As per the factory’s capacity, 1 tonne of dry waste is collected from various parts of Pune; the highest amount of collection comes from Dhayari. Further, this dry waste is compressed in a simple compressing machine and sold to various industries.
Segregated paper waste in Rathi’s dry waste segregation plant
With a team of researchers and many enthusiastic minds, Rathi also started experimenting on ‘Pellets Project’. The process of drying garden waste and producing a pellet from it is called a ‘Pellets Project’. Pellets are one of the best replacements for coal because they have high burning capacity and they are more eco-friendly in comparison.
Pellets manufactured by recycling of dry garden waste
The most important advantage of producing pellet from dry garden waste is that there is no loss of volume on primary product. 1 tonne of dry garden waste yields 1 tonne of pellets. The machinery producing these pellets is of two types. The one with 5HP (Horse Power) produces 800Kg-900Kg of pellets, while the other with 10HP (Horse Power) produces around 1.5 tonnes of pellets.
Pellets producing machine at Clean Garbage Management Pvt. Ltd.
It was this time that Rathi raised his independent working environment where he could indulge in the waste recycling activity as per the changing times. He had a perfect slingshot towards his goal to innovate the recycling industry.
Along with his own venture, Rathi was slowly expanding his area of research in waste management. He also started studying about biogas and types of wet waste to generate the same. It was Rathi, who provided financial support to Nirmal Katraj in the form of 3 tempos to carry the wet waste from the city for biogas generation. About 6 to 7 tonnes of wet waste is collected from the city which also includes a huge amount of food waste from hotels.
“We are working simultaneously on 3 projects, of which the Nanded Grampanchayat project is from outside Pune city. This is the first step towards the expansion of our waste recycling project beyond Pune,” says Rathi. He further adds, “We are also developing a mobile application to synchronize waste generators and collectors. After all, a jump into digital world will ignite the spark of awareness among the people”. Rathi’s thoughts have already started reaching the hearts of the people. And one of the examples is Nanded Grampanchyat’s step towards a sustainable future.
Change is necessary but consistency keeps you running
The list of innovations in the recycling industry is unending. Lalit Rathi is abreast with these changes; he also carries out his own innovations diligently. But what is constant in this ever-changing scenario is his passion to find greater, more efficient solutions. Till the problem persists, his efforts will continue.
— Filed & Photos by Omkar Nikam