The Man Who Created Wealth from Waste
Stephen Hawkings once predicted “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible.” With the raging wildfires ravaging Australia, disastrous earthquakes in Japan and uninhabitable air conditions in Delhi, it seems that we have long crossed this tipping point. When the world’s arguably smartest man predicts such a thing it is our duty to listen. It is just that simple. Despite this, world leaders continue to ignore the climate crisis and instead continue to exploit resources and increase pollution by excessive use of plastic.
Meanwhile, a pharmaceutical advisor of Noida, Uttar Pradesh Paras Saluja decided to leave his stable high-paying job and take matters into his own hands. Fueled by his innovative thinking, desire to help the environment and high business acumen, he founded Shayna Ecounified India - a simple and profitable solution for managing our ever-increasing plastic waste.
Saluja’s lightbulb moment occurred when he saw large amounts of plastic bottles while on his trip to Mount Everest. It was in this moment that he was struck by the distressing realization that anthropogenic pollution had reached even the most beautiful and pristine places of our planet. A while later, when he was on a trip in Vietnam, he made a shocking discovery. He noticed how a market full of plastic was efficiently cleaned and emptied virtually overnight.. He wondered how a third world country such as Vietnam could sustainably use and recycle plastic waste. This led him to question why India, an equally poor and developing country, couldn’t achieve similar results. Awed by what he had witnessed and eager to improve his country’s response to waste management, Saluja returned home. He strongly believed that as humans we must consider plastic as a positive thing and hold it in high regard as opposed to viewing it as a negative commodity. If we treat it as wealth, we would automatically be much more careful about its daily use and disposal. This formed the driving force and ideal behind the company he eventually established.
It’s not just his intense desire to help the community that impressed me about Saluja but also his brilliant business sense. His creative ability, passion and hard work have culminated in an opportunity for him to break the confines of traditional raw materials and delve into a plethora of eco-friendly options. Using this he managed to formulate a stellar albeit simple business model: The plastic waste is readily available at the local market at scrap value of ₹55-60 in local markets. After adding all operative and incidental cost the finished product is sold at a reasonable margin thus ensuring a profitable business. In addition, he partnered with local scrap vendors and supermarkets to ensure a sufficient amount of incoming raw material. Saluja’s vision to reuse plastic as a raw material to cut down on our heavy dependence on natural resources is translated in his lucrative and economical yet eco-friendly production technology. The technology ensures that no pollutants are released into the atmosphere during manufacture. By making sure the process is antimicrobial and antibacterial he could drastically increase the selling price. This also provided him with the additional benefit of gaining the trust of external stakeholders such as the government, NGO’s and his main priority which were his direct consumers. In addition, Saluja has never compromised on product quality. Despite their unlikely source, his tiles have a guarantee of lasting upto 50 years in temperatures ranging from -20 to 150 degrees.
Although Saluja and his co-owner Sandeep Nagpal were able to raise a capital of $194,766 for their cause, his unique technology is also approved by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and thus he is entitled to receive subsidies from the government. India is one of the only countries around the globe whose government have tested and readily approved it’s technology and so he was also able to receive funds from the government and was recognized by the same under the Start-Up India Campaign. Additionally, his tiles were recently used to build a park funded by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation where he had converted 275 tonnes of plastic to manufacture 6 million tiles. Saluja has also tried to promote his product by spreading awareness through the means of advertising.
By partnering up with many local markets to sell and make his product more available for people, he was quick to obtain success Moreover he has also recently struck a long term deal with the multinational company L’oreal.
However as in every mythical story, every Hero must one day experience and overcome their Achilles heel. Although Shayna Ecounified has done well in its initial few years, it has had to face some hardships according to Saluja. Saluja explains that his main difficulty is the lack of awareness people in India have. Contrarily, those who are aware are not proactively helping his initiative. Furthermore as in every business Saluja must constantly struggle between creating the best quality product while simultaneously maintaining low overhead costs in order to achieve a well priced product.
Saluja has done his social duty by turning a small idea into a revolutionary one. Now as global citizens it is our duty to help in anyway that we can. Statistically around 50% of water pollution and 70% of air pollution comes simply from plastic. While these numbers may seem staggering, and they are, all Saluja requires from our end is the 10 minutes it would require us to correctly dispose of our plastic waste into outlets such as his. Saluja has the ability and incentive to produce twice the number of tiles however he needs our simple determination in order to achieve the greater good This way we are able to preserve and sustain our resources for the following many generations.