Banyan Nation, a vertically integrated plastic recycling business with headquarters in Hyderabad, recently revealed that over 300 million FMCG bottles made from recycled plastic were produced for significant customers including Hindustan Unilever, Shell, HPCL, and Reckitt in the previous year.
Banyan Nation has created a special technique that enables them to collect enormous amounts of plastic garbage and generate premium-quality recycled polyolefin plastics in a nation where plastic recycling is still mostly restricted to a fragmented informal industry and tonnes of waste ends up in landfills (PE and PP). Quality packaging applications including shampoo, detergent, and lotion bottles employ this. The business uses its own digital platform to source raw plastic garbage and incorporates thousands of undocumented employees into its supply chain.
The company produces near-virgin recycled resins that are utilised in common consumer packaging after recycling its trash using its patented cleaning and decontamination method. In addition to ensuring that the raw materials they obtain originate from a 100% traceable supply chain, Banyan Nation ensures that the recycled plastics they use exceed US and EU packaging and plastics safety regulations.
At its recycling facility in Hyderabad, Banyan can recycle around 1,000–1,200 tonnes of plastic garbage per month. We obtain scrap plastic from towns all around the nation. We are significantly increasing procurement to the North, West, and East even though historically we have a greater presence in the South, according to co-founder Mani Vajipey in an interview with The Better India.
Coming Back Home:
Mani, who studied for an MBA at Columbia Business School from 2011 to 2013, developed the concept for Banyan Nation there. He was trained as an electrical engineer, but he also had a deep love for the environment and knowledge of India’s enormous non-recycled plastic trash problem. He was aware that most plastic waste in India was down cycled, with the exception of water bottles. Recycling was still a relatively new idea that was mostly practised in unofficial settings.
So, in order to address this expanding issue, he formed Banyan Nation in 2013. He developed Banyan Nation at Columbia while working under the guidance of Ron Gonen, a pioneer in trash management. Raj Madangopal, a buddy and fellow University of Delaware graduate, shortly joined him after several phone calls. In Seattle at the time, Raj was employed by a startup, but he shared Mani’s ambition to return home and significantly impact his community.
Mani and Raj went to Hyderabad and Bengaluru to do research as part of the university’s incubator programme. They interviewed a wide range of stakeholders for their study, including managers at large multinational corporations, city municipal commissioners, private waste management organisations, rag pickers, scrap collectors, and kabadiwalas.
The two came to the conclusion that India was in desperate need of a business that could streamline the entire process of managing plastic waste, from collection to transportation and recycling, over the course of three months’ worth of thorough market research, visits to various locations and townships in cities like Hyderabad, and interactions with direct stakeholders.
Integrating informal workers:
How does the Banyan Nation include these undocumented employees in the supply chain and make sure that the raw materials they use come from a supply chain that is completely traceable?
The field crew geotags and compiles vital data about each scrap dealer in a city using Banyan’s Mappr App, including the kind of material they collect, how much they collect, how much they collect, and how much they trade. Once we’ve found a group of scrap dealers we can work with, Banyan’s team educates them on our standards for quality and social compliance (such as making sure there are no child labourers present, taking personal safety seriously, paying employees fairly, etc.). Then we log all trades and follow their progress over time and space by uploading photographs and updates to the mobile app, says Rashi Agrawal, director of business development, sales, and compliance at Banyan Nation.
By doing this, they guarantee that the origin of every kilogram that enters Banyan’s facilities. They can integrate such unofficial scrap traders into established supply networks by educating and integrating them.
Producing premium quality recycled polyolefin plastics:
Years of study and development on Indian waste streams led to Banyan’s proprietary cleaning and decontamination technique.Over 300 million bottles for FMCG firms were made from recycled plastic in the previous year. However, there are measures in place to increase their capacity.
By the end of 2023, we will be recycling 1 billion plastic bottles annually. The Better India quotes Rashi as saying, “We have plans to install additional capacity and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead in many other industries where plastics are a crucial raw material. Their current installed capacity only just meets the 1% of recycled plastics demand anticipated in 2025.
In other words, the problem has a significant breadth. Banyan Nation believes that better cooperation with governments, established businesses, startups, and customers can help them scale up more quickly and bring about a more fundamental change in the way plastic is handled in India.
The project has won numerous honours for its work, including the Millennium Alliance Grant, the 2018 Intel DST Award Innovations for Digital India, and the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Technology Pioneers (2021) award (2016).
In the future, Rashi thinks that Indian customers will eventually become aware of the need to manage plastic garbage. She does, however, also have some suggestions.Customers should support companies who responsibly recycle plastics and pledge to use less virgin plastic in packaging.