The Noida based start-up is recycling cigarette waste into creative by-products. Vishal Kanet and Naman Gupta, in their 20s wanted to eradicate the discharge of these hazardous products, which are dumped into the environment. Here’s how they came up with this innovative idea.
By Raman Balakrishnan
With many of us who walk on the streets/or roads would have stepped on a million used-cigarettes without knowing the harm it creates. It is not the tobacco that’s dangerous but the cigarette-butt which is made of Cellulose acetate, a plastic fibre that is non-biodegradable and can harm the environment for years once discarded. But, why should we get traumatised about this specific issue. It is because India, being the home to the second highest number of tobacco users in the world is also the third largest producer of these products which counts to about 800 million kilos every year. Do you know that these cigarette-butts would end up contaminating water bodies and clogging the drains? But, what can we do to reverse this mistake?
This was the question which came to Vishal Kanet and Naman Gupta while they attended the party at their friend’s house. They were traumatised to see the amount of cigarette waste which got accumulated the other day. This was eureka movement for the duo as they wanted to stand out of the crowd. With a dream of starting an organisation, the duo brainstormed together and started this organisation CODE enterprise in 2016. CODE is an acronym for Conserve Our Depleting Environment.
In July, they started this organisation with an initiative to recycle cigarette waste and create an attractive by-product out of it. “We are India’s first Cigarette waste management and recycling firm. We seek to resolve the irregular management in the Indian waste sector because there are no Indian laws regarding cigarette waste management and recycling till date,” opines Naman, Founder, CODE Enterprise.
Every start-up needs investment for their survival, Naman continues, “My family has always been the sole mentor monetarily as well as non-monetarily towards the business prospect.” With the entire family backing their dreams, the duo was able to cross their initial setback. Naman hailed from a middle-class family in Noida, U.P. who completed his CA-IPCC level and is waiting for his final year graduation result and his partner Vishal is a Professional photographer who worked in the lens and later joined CODE enterprise.
Business Model to eradicate Cigarette Waste
CODE Enterprise started eradicating the hazardous waste from Delhi, the capital city, which is considered as the most polluted state in India. With duo being familiar with the localities, they regularly collected the cigarette waste from the localities who are cigarette vendors, rag pickers, smokers and so on. After the completion of all the legalities and procedures, the CODE enterprise provided their customers with VBins (Value Bins) to collect waste on a contract basis. “We assured them Rs. 250 per kilo as an incentive to every person who is willing to contribute to our cause,” says Naman. Till date, the customers have shown their full support via social media platforms like Facebook (/CodeEnterprises), Twitter (@ce_llp), Instagram (@codeenterprises), Youtube. Recently, the CODE Enterprise has been featured in more than 25 local and national media coverage which has increased their visibility in the worldwide market.
PAN India business associations
With an increase in customers, the CODE enterprise has established the Pan India associations. They have associated with individuals, corporate and many others so that they will be able to manage and supply the cigarette waste from their assigned districts to recycling unit on a contractual basis. “Today, we have more than 50 associates covering approximately 100+ districts across India. At the ground level, we have provided more than 10,000 VBins for collecting the cigarette waste and 5,000+ individuals have generated income and employment from the cause,” claims Naman. Since the establishment, the organisation has successfully eradicated 3-4 tonnes of cigarette waste. Recently, they have started procuring industrial waste from the cigarette manufactures to end the environmental degradation.
CODE Enterprise is using their own chemical composition for recycling the waste but the method cannot be revealed as it is confidential to maintain unique selling point of the firm. “We ensure that the treatment process is ensured to be cent-percent safe and secure which is certified by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) approved laboratories. We ensure that the wastewater generated during the stock treatment is also recycled to ensure zero waste propaganda,” elaborates Naman. They make by-products which include organic compost powder, Cushions, garland, and other accessories under the brand name VMake.
But, Narman and Vishan have also faced unforeseen challenges in the past two years of their journey. They have found many of their bins to be stolen but they continued to issue more bins. With this ebullient service, Code enterprise witnessed a huge public support and media support. “We want the Indian government to act upon the cigarette recycling with a broader perspective or a sustainable alternative in the coming years. Recently, the Indian Railways and India Post services are the partakers for our smooth as well as systematic operations,” claims Naman.
With the recent developments, the CODE Enterprise is opening their doors for those who want to become a part of their swachh bharat (Clean India) mission. Narman and Vishan are welcoming the interested to contact them and they are ready in providing them with five percent partnership rights. “Our future plan is to scale up the production and sales of the running by-products to attain profitability by 2020. Our vision is to manufacture air-purification systems applicable for chimneys in the coming years,” concludes Naman.