The problem, it emerges, isn’t waste. It is the way waste is disposed. And it is the bins in which waste is thrown. That’s the premise of a Bangalore-based start-up Daily Dump that has come up with a designer solution to a very smelly problem: a range of terracota pots designed by the company’s founder, Poonam Bir Kasturi, a graduate of the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad.
Urban Indian households typically empty the contents of rubbish bins into overflowing municipal dumps around the corner, without segregating the waste. Clearing the trash is considered as the responsibility of the city corporation, although the average urban citizen generates over half a kilogram of solid waste every day.
Daily Dump, which makes products for home composting, aims to alter this mindset by offering individuals a solution to deal with the rubbish they generate.
That includes the pots which are used to turn bio degradable waste into manure for gardens by composting it; lemon grass oil added to the waste helps mask the odour, while sprinkling neem powder on the compost mixture keeps maggots and ants at bay. “It is a simple, hygienic technique that can, in about three months, turn organic waste into fine, high-quality manure” says Kasturi. The 300 Indian cities with a population of more than 100,000 generate between 52,000 tonnes and 85,000 tonnes of garbage each, every day. Less than half of this is treated before disposal although 35% of waste in urban India can be composted—this includes paper, fruit and vegetable peel, food stuff and cloth. But only 5% of the waste is actually composted, says Kasturi who designed the Daily Dump range of pots when she realized that the careful separation of non-biodegradable trash in her own home was futile, while the trash bin in the neighbourhood remained full of plastic.
Launched in mid-2006, Daily Dump now has over 700 customers in Bangalore who have access to after sales service and trouble shooting advice on the online portal run by the company. Built as a micro-enterprise, Kasturi offers technical know-how to entrepreneurs who are keen to become Daily Dump clones, as she terms them. Unlike a franchisee who pays a fixed recurring fee, clones of Daily Dump pay only for printed literature that the company provides and for the first batch of 100 pots that can cost up to Rs25,000.
In Chennai, Navneeth Raghavan, a landscape designer, has signed on as a Daily Dump Clone and has, in the past month sold over 12 pots at Rs 750 each. Raghavan offers door delivery and free after sales service to customers. “A clone can hope to earn up to Rs6,000 a month, if it is run as a full -time enterprise”, says Kasturi who is building a network of clones in cities such as Allahabad, Coimbatore as well as towns in Gujarat and Haryana.
Kasturi is also designing a mechanized composting device that can be sold off the shelf at a price point between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000, depending on the capacity. Due to hit the shelves by end of 2007, the mechanized composter can be retrofitted into apartment blocks. “Composting trash must become yet another household chore akin to tossing dirty clothes into a washing machine”, says Kasturi.