When Nivedha and her friends first cleared the area dumped with wastage and trash, little did they know that it will create a pathway for new innovation? The third-year student of chemical engineering at the R V College of Engineering in Bengaluru was disturbed by the approach of the residents as well as BBMP with both sides blaming the other for inability to dispose of garbage appropriately.
Not to be backed down by such obstacles, Nivedha took it upon herself to introduce the change by creating innovation in the form of Trashbot. An update on her interesting journey!
Extensive Research, Study & Discussions Started The Journey
When she came to know that locals are not aware of the proper disposal of waste and even the garbage collectors many times mix the dry and wet waste Nivedha decided to find a solution to this problem. During her research, she came to know that India generates 1.7 lakh tonnes of the waste/day out of which 95% is unsegregated.
Similar to New Delhi, Bengaluru is now running short of space for waste and in the absence of technology that can handle mixed waste to such a large extent, it is impossible to find a solution. That is when this middle-class student decided to find a solution and Trashbot, a semi-automatic waste segregator was invented.
This waste segregator has the capacity to segregate waste within minutes. Her journey started in 2016 when after ideating for around six months she built a small system based on the thought of the principal difference of moisture between non-biodegradable and biodegradable waste.
Initially, she built a prototype with a capacity to process 1kg of waste and later on decided to increase its size to 50kg/hour. But she was short of funds.
Help From Karnataka Government’s Elevate 100
Karnataka Government runs Elevate 100, a flagship program that recognizes top 100 innovative startups and offers to fund for them. Nivedha applied for the program but was apprehensive whether her application will be considered or not.
She said, “I had no idea how to set up a company, but I applied as a one-day-old proprietorship company. Competing with more than 3,500 startups, many of which had ongoing business with over 150 countries, I made it to the top 100.”
At that time her final results came out and she secured 9th place and also scored good ranking in CAT and XAT. Post her good results, Nivedha even considered putting the project aside for lack of fund, earn some money and then restart it.
But her mother decided to support her saying, ‘There is nobody who is trying to solve a problem which is going to kill us any day. Why don’t you do it? Even with my meager salary, I will support you. It is okay if you fail, but try, Nivedha’.”
After building a 50kg/hour prototype with funding from Elevate 100 and its successful installation at an apartment complex having 150 homes, through experience, she improvised the innovation further to create a 250 kg/hour prototype. She installed this model at the municipality’s dumpsite.
Nivedha Found Her Mentor In Saurabh Jain To Create Idiot-Proof Machine
On request to a local corporator, she was provided with an electricity connection for setting up a unit at the dump yard. However, within 10 minutes the machine broke down. It was because someone had put a boulder in the waste. At that instance, Nivedha decided to make her Trashbot idiot proof so that the machine never fails to deliver.
That is when, an electronic engineer and CA, Saurabh Jain came to her rescue. Being an engineer himself, he could help Nivedita with the technical aspects and encouraged her to do things the right way.
After a while, Saurabh realized the importance of work Nivedha was doing and quit his co-owned company to join her in her fight against garbage. After working for around five months at the dump yard they finally developed the machine. In the process, many more people joined their Trashcon team.
According to Nivedha, “These were individuals just as crazy and passionate as us who gave up lofty jobs to work in a dump yard.”
Trashbot Offers 90% Efficiency
The waste managing machine started six months ago and apart from being idiot-proof, it works with 90% efficiency even if you put mixed waste in it. At present, waste segregator is available in 500kg, 2 tonnes, 5 tonnes, and 10 tonnes capacity. The starting price of Trashbot is 9 lakhs and increases as per the capacity.
The mixed waste dumped into the machine is sent to a magnetic separation system that removes contaminants, batteries, and other metals. The loading conveyor then takes the rest of the material and sents it to a shredding unit where it is shredded and falls in front of a high-speed fan with high pressure.
Due to air pressure, the biodegradable waste gets collected in a conveyor located close to the fan whereas the non-biodegradable waste is collected separately.
The biodegradable waste is used for generating biogas or producing manure or compost whereas the non-biodegradable waste is recycled into boards and used for making chairs, tables, partition walls, roofing tiles and so on.