Tile the Pile – Paving ways to sustainable solutions
Friday, July 31 2020
Tile the Pile – Paving ways to sustainable solutions
The aggressive consumption of a finite supply of natural resources followed by the generation of enormous amounts of non-biodegradable waste has vandalized ecosystems and rendered us vulnerable in the face of pressing problems such as space management leading to expanding landfills due to accumulating trash, and the disruption of ecological balance. The danger of improper waste management has not only inflicted the health of the environment but also lowered the quality of life on this planet.
The lack of a direct correlation between profit and sustainability allows us to believe that improvisations in the current processes of waste management are simply auxiliaries for another time. Therefore, compared to frontline innovations that enable the direct flow of finance, developments in the fields of waste management are usually deprioritized and become a secondary topic for discussion or investment. The truth is, turning a blind eye to an increasing social problem like waste accumulation is neither honorable, responsible, nor sensible.
Of the many products developed to uplift the human lifestyle; plastic by far is the most convenient and commonly used synthetic commodity. Notwithstanding the benefits, plastic is also the most uncontrolled material discarded from households and industries infesting the landfills and settling itself into ecosystems with a promise of detrimental consequences.
In a city like Mumbai, the solid waste generated each day is over 7200-7700 MTPD as stated in the Environmental status report 2018-2019 by MCGM. The total plastic waste generated from household items like milk pouches, chocolate/biscuit wrappers, tubes, and industries constitutes 3.24%. Next to organic food waste, the next major contributor to the dump is sand, stone, fine earth coming from construction debris, accounting for nearly 17.37% of the total. Although wet waste holds the lion’s share of 73% of the total matter collected by the MCGM, the majority of this is degradable and may find its way into various natural cycles. However, the weak spot of the entire bulk of collected waste matter is the non-degradable plastic and construction debris collectively constituting a whopping 20%. Moreover, the leftover construction and demolition debris are responsible for not only depleting valuable natural resources such as sand, limestone, etc. but is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Recycling of construction material can impact environmental quality because 5% of the greenhouse gases are dispersed during the process of conventional cement production. Data suggests that around 250 MT plastic and over 1240 MT construction debris are generated daily which amounts to dumping 543850 Metric Tonnes of waste yearly. Instead of piling the discarded non-degradable waste, the same debris can be used as a raw material for creating new items and close the loop of plastic management, preventing the production of virgin plastic matter.
So the important question is: Can we find a novel and sustainable solution to rid the city of this 20% of waste matter which amounts to 1440MTD?
We Sharang Ambadkar, 23, and Varad Tole, 23 founders of the startup FeelGood EcoNurture LLP have answered this question!
Our Story :
FeelGood EcoNurture LLP a Mumbai based startup is a budding venture driven by the vision ‘ Waste is nothing but a Resource conceived as waste ’ to encourage our country with recyclable systems and circular economies. It is the result of a common vision shared by us, to introduce the concept of ‘FG Eco-Tiles’. Like innumerable startup players who begin their entrepreneurship journeys in-car sheds or kitchens and metamorphose into jacks of their trades, we have now established ourselves as mainstream developers of commercially viable FG eco-Tiles, which is the MVP of our endeavour, since our first amateur attempt at creating a tile recycled from plastic and construction waste using a wrought oven from the junk and a handmade wooden mould. (Figure A)
The Evolution of a Concept :
Having identified that the major sources of waste in the city, which are the most difficult to process and manage, are plastic and construction debris. We churned ideas to reach an adept and feasible solution, which will enable us to bring the seemingly unusable components into the loop for recycling. Our collaboration aimed to determine if two individually non-recyclable components can be collectively processed for a better outcome.
Through various kitchen experiments, we prepared our prototype 7 months ago and then partnered up with a recycler Junaid Khan, 26 who was impressed with our passion to make a difference. He saw an opportunity and allowed us to use his machinery which ensured our prototype could be scaled up with just some tweaks. Currently, this prototype has been at the receiving end of continuous improvements and gradual transformations, uplifting confidences and the market value of FeelGood Eco nurture LLP.
Manufacturing FG Tiles :
Creating recyclable FG Eco-Tiles using plastic and construction debris is a 5-step procedure comprising of waste collection, segregation & cleaning, compounding, pelletizing, and moulding. This raw materials plastic and construction waste are collected and segregated based on the type of material. The processed plastic and debris are compounded in a machine to yield the desired composite mixture. The mixture is processed into a compounded string which is further slit into granules through a cutting machine to manufacture composite granules. The granules are further molded to form Tiles, which is the final product of this process.
Why are FG Tiles unique?
The primary objective achieved through the invention of FG Eco-Tiles is to provide an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to the problem of non-degradable plastic and construction debris. The processed composite constituting FG Eco-Tiles is recyclable and so we have a ‘bring-back’ policy in our business model to incentivize customers thus adding more material life cycles. The composite is easy to process and can be transformed into a variety of products. Waste Plastics and building material, which are raw materials to construct FG Eco-Tiles are available in large quantities.
The waste from this process is used as a resource for another process adding plastic and construction debris within the scope of recyclable resources. Moreover, no natural resources are consumed during manufacturing making it a completely sustainable procedure.
The weight of the paver Tiles is lesser than conventional blocks and Tiles, providing for cheaper transport. At the end of its life cycle, the product itself can be used as a raw material for future production closing the loop of its life cycle.
All these factors help us to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030
Significance of the invention
FG Eco-Tiles is a sustainable solution to fundamentally oust the concern of plastic and construction waste accumulation and manage it effectively. The invention proves that any material can be transformed into a resource without discarding it as a waste provided we have the right technique and attitude to bring about this transformation.
FG Eco-Tiles is a potential solution to reducing the plastic waste transported and left untreatable in the landfills. A direct consequence of this processing is the diminished load on landfills, clearing of spaces, reduction in the deposition
and disposition of plastic waste into the lands and oceans, and provision of a safer environment to the animals due to cleaner waterways and other habitats. It has been estimated that without significant action, there may be more plastic than fish by weight in the seas by 2050. Surely, we do not want to even envision a future this sinister.
An indirect but fundamental consequence of the recycling of this waste is an enhancement in air quality due to a reduction in plastic incineration, a drop in carbon emissions, and the consumption of fossil fuels. Other than the health and safety of the environment, FG Eco-Tiles can prove to be affordable substitutes to conventional Tiles equivalent in quality and durability.
The generation of revenue from discarded untreatable waste can also impact the economy on a large scale and provide additional sources of generating economic funds.
Considering the current scenario, the advantages of this process can be extrapolated to include the generation of employment options, align with Make in India initiatives, and represent our country in creating a humanitarian and environmentally cognizant mark on the globe.
Challenges of the near future
Since the concept of sustainable products is amateur to a large section of the audience, probably the primary challenge foreseen is to sensitize the consumer on the significance of using recyclable material without compromising on the profits. Taking into account the limited focus of consumers on sustainability, FeelGood EcoNurture LLP will require an effective strategy in demonstrating to the bigwigs and stakeholders of the construction industry the promising potential of their product. The superior attributes of the FG Eco-Tiles and feasibility of their use shall prove to be strongholds to reach out to the relevant audience.
Moreover, our market reaches being in a developing stage, we would need to identify the advance technology and resources to scale up their production and pool finances to support the efforts. Convincing companies to transit from their current materials and shift to renewable sources is one of the strongest challenges.
The consumer & the Product
Stakeholders linked to the construction industry are potential customers. The partners could leverage the element of first appearances to their opportune advantage and create their unique value in the market.
This product can penetrate the market to provide valuable substitutes to paver blocks, roof Tiles, paver Tiles, man-hole covers, benches, and some aspirational projects which include recycling ocean plastic on a large scale into valuable products.
Implementing the idea and scaling up production are the prime targets of FeelGood EcoNurture LLP. A time frame of two months is sufficient to launch our novel product and create a footprint for FG Eco-Tiles in the relevant markets. Moreover, the range of products that can be manufactured from these raw materials is endless. We have the potential to tap into the road, house construction, and even the furniture industry.
With constant improvisations and agile approaches, FeelGood can establish their range of recyclable sustainable products from two of the waste materials, which were considered the most difficult to process.
We among many young entrepreneurs who care for a cleaner and greener tomorrow would like to serve as a small attempt to sensitize the youth that we can transform any waste to ware. After all, the innovators of today are the guardians of a worthy tomorrow!
1. Brihanmumbai Environmental Status report 2018-2019
2. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.2016
3. World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, McKinsey & Company.
The New Plastics
Economy:Rethinking the future of plastics & catalysing action.2016
Sharang Ambadkar Varad Tole