H&M Foundation and Social Alpha commit USD 2 million to support start-ups and innovations in Waste Management

Sweden based H&M Foundation and Social Alpha have joined hands to launch “Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management”, a nationwide grand challenge to identify and curate locally designed, disruptive innovations addressing problems in waste management and improving the livelihoods of waste pickers.

Through “Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management”, H&M Foundation and Social Alpha aim to create an enabling ecosystem stack for innovators and entrepreneurs developing waste management solutions with a focus on supply chains efficiencies, logistics traceability and waste to value systems.

Top 5 winners of Techtonic will join the first cohort of Social Alpha Waste Innovations Accelerator and receive support in their lab-to-market journey. The Accelerator will provide startups support with fully paid pilots, expert guidance, go to market strategy, ecosystem access and an opportunity to pitch for seed capital investment up to Rs 1 Cr. First of its kind, the accelerator has been designed to leverage the knowledge and strength of multiple stakeholders across Central, State and Local Government bodies, private sector and civil society to drive the uptake of high-impact and scalable technology innovations.

Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management is inviting applications from start-ups that are working on addressing the following challenges in waste management:

  • Network Optimization: Innovative solutions to build the supply chain efficiency of waste generated
  • Data for waste management: Technology solutions for end-to-end waste traceability, transparency and visibility of the waste  supply chain
  • Waste to Value: Enabling recycling and resource recovery from waste streams through innovations, with a focus on low value waste

Karl-Johan Persson, Board Member of H&M Foundation, said “With H&M Foundation’s entrepreneurial heritage and spirit, we see it as both essential and inspirational to use technology and innovation to create social change. New ideas are needed for positive development, and waste management and material recycling are fundamental components of a circular economy. We are happy to support this innovation challenge and are excited to see what impact it will have.”

Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Alpha, said, “We believe that climate action can be catalysed by accelerating entrepreneurial solutions to waste management challenges. Deep science and technology innovations will provide the much needed impetus to create circular economic models and enhance livelihood opportunities for millions of waste warriors engaged in this sector. We are delighted to partner with H&M Foundation to nurture entrepreneurship for social, economic and environmental impact – which represents a unique triple bottom-line paradigm.”

With an initial outlay of Rs 15 Crore committed by H&M Foundation and Social Alpha, the programme will continue to seek more partners as it progresses in its journey. It has also forged partnerships with Start-up India, Invest India, AGNii, Government of Karnataka, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Saamuhika Shakti with the objective to scale this initiative across the country.

Saamuhika Shakti, the collective impact project, is the programme partner for problem curation, pilots and validations. Saamuhika Shakti brings together multiple organisations – BBC Media Action, CARE, LabourNet, Hasiru Dala, Save the Children, WaterAid and The/Nudge Foundation to work towards a common agenda of enabling waste pickers to have greater agency to lead secure and dignified lives. This will ensure that the solutions are centered around creating sustainable, better livelihood and enhanced income opportunities for waste pickers.

Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management has been announced in view of the rising amounts of waste generated from rapid urbanization in India. According to the World Bank, our country is the largest producer of waste in the world owing to its population size. As per a 2016 estimate, India generates 277 million tonnes of municipal solid waste every year. Lack of proper waste management has led to our cities grappling with overflowing landfills, which are hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions, oceans filling up with plastics and leachate from landfills leaking into the soil and groundwater.

While Government support through policy and programme on waste management has built a momentum, highlighting the need for holistic solutions, true circularity can only be achieved through advancement in technological innovations and their widespread adoption.

Dr. Ashwath Narayan C.N., Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka stated, “Waste is a real resource and waste to health is a concept. To fully understand that, we need to mitigate and address the environmental concerns as well as ensure this resource needs to be recycled, reused, and effectively channelized. All of us need to come together to tackle this challenge. India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. With rapid urbanization, good waste management becomes an especially important goal for new India. It will make our cities clean, smart, livable, and resilient.”

He went on to showcase his support towards the ‘Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management’ program led by Social Alpha and H&M Foundation and further added, “This initiative taken up by Social Alpha and H&M Foundation can add much-needed impetus to accelerate this process and tackle the enormous amount of waste being generated regularly.”

The last date to apply to Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management is January 31st, 2021.

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