Plenty of green capital, but scaling up is tough

Plenty of green capital, but scaling up is tough
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First Published: Tue, Jan 20 2009. 01 15 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Jan 20 2009. 11 47 AM IST
Bangalore: Do you know the kitchen waste you dump into a bin can be used to make compost? This is what Poonam Bir Kasturi has been helping households do for the past two years.
In 2006, Bangalore-based Kasturi launched Daily Dump from the basement of her house to help people manage household waste by composting. A graduate from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, Kasturi has come up with a variety of terracotta pots that can be used to convert biodegradable waste into manure.
“People do not realize that kitchen waste can be turned into compost. Also, there are misconceptions about it—it’s messy, stinks and can be difficult,” she says, adding that with right information, composting is quite easy. Kasturi says her biggest challenge is changing the mindset of people who feel disposing waste is a municipal responsibility.
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Daily Dump’s composting products include gamla (flower pot), khamba (three pots placed on top of each other) and Leave-It Pots (where half composted matter is left for some time to fully mature). Composters are available in three sizes, starting at Rs400.
To start, all you need is a Daily Dump composter or khamba. The kitchen waste has to be placed in the top-most pot, to be replaced by the second once it’s full. It takes 80-90 days to get a pot full of compost.
For issues such as maggots, ants and the smell associated with composting, Daily Dump suggests adding lemon grass to mask the odour and sprinkling neem leaf powder. The compost can be used for potted plants at homes or be given out to nurseries.
According to the 2001 census, around 42 million tonnes of garbage is generated in India every year, of which 40% is biodegradable.
Kasturi, who has three full-time employees, says 3,000 families in Bangalore use her wares. In Chennai, there are 400 such families, while in Kottayam, Kerala, 300 households are using composters.
To get people living in flats to use her composters, Kasturi is talking with developers to have a separate area for them. “We have spoken to developers in Pune and Bangalore...they are very keen on it.”
Daily Dump also offers technical expertise to entrepreneurs interested in adopting composters. “Our aim is to get more and more people to take up composting at home,” says Kasturi. In fiscal 2008, the firm had posted a revenue of Rs4 lakh; in fiscal 2009, it expects Rs12 lakh. “We are breaking even, except for my time! We will make money by bringing in new products and solutions,” she says.
The firm is working on a project to reduce plastic intake at homes and looking for a packaging material that is non-plastic yet durable.
Investors warn costs will increase if Daily Dump takes its business national.
One way out, says T.C. Meenakshisundaram, founder and managing director, IDG Ventures India, is that the firm can look at franchisee models to aggregate compost from residents in an area that can then be composted at a centralized location.
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First Published: Tue, Jan 20 2009. 01 15 AM IST