Ashaya is a social enterprise that aims to increase the value of waste through technological and scientific innovations in recycling and then fairly redistribute that value to stakeholders in the supply chain, especially those who are the poorest: waste-pickers.
We are currently focused on upcycling the worst kind of plastic waste - metalized multi-layered packaging (MLP - think chips packets, sachets). We chemo-mechanically upcycle this MLP into premium, personalised sunglasses using 3D-printing farms and customized injection moulding (currently pre-revenue).
There are about 1.5 - 4 million waste pickers in India who live multidimensionally poor lives. They are informally employed – no contract, no protective gear, no health insurance, while earning only daily wages based on the type of waste they encounter. Their life expectancy can be as low as 39 years of age (versus 69 for an average Indian) because of the dangerous conditions (fumes, fires, dirt) in which they work, and that to, generally without protective equipment. They are generally of low caste, belong to minority groups, or are migrants. They earn somewhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 12,000 a month and live in urban areas that have a higher cost of living on average.
It’s also a generational occupation – once you’re a waste picker, there’s a high probability your child will also become a waste-picker.
Simultaneously, there is untapped value in waste. 81% of waste in India is untreated (~50 million tons), and half of all waste generated is dumped in landfills.
More specifically, we are working on metalized multi-layered plastic packaging (MLP) Only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally. 95% of plastic packaging material value is lost annually. It’s low-value, high-volume, composite waste with upto 5-6 different types of materials, which makes it “impossible” to recycle.