Home / News / India /  Building a greener future: 5 Indian startups that are working to battle climate change

As people from across the globe come together today to commemorate the World Environment Day by cleaning up beaches, planting trees, and holding marches in an effort to revive what environment advocates say is a planet on the precipice, these startups have taken their businesses a notch upwards with cleaner practices. 

While over 150 countries are slated to host environmentally-themed events, environment experts hope for this year's World Environment Day is to encourage a global effort to tackle what they describe as the decline of the natural world. Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said, "we are running against the clock. Today, as we look to a...future of heatwaves, droughts, floods, wildfires, pandemics, dirty air, wars, and plastic-ridden oceans, action is more important than ever."

On World Environment Day, here's a look into five Indian startups that are working across different sectors with the aim to make environmentally conscious decisions and contribute the transition to a greener future.

1. Phool

This is India’s very first biomaterial startup and a fragrance-focussed wellness brand. Phool.co is a flower recycling technology startup and so far it has raised $8 million (Rs60.5 crore) in a Series A round from Sixth Sense Ventures, a consumer-centric venture fund. 

Phool.co was founded in 2017 by engineering graduates Ankit Agarwal and Prateek Kumar. The startup company uses floral waste, collected from dumping temple waste in rivers, to make patented organic fertiliser and charcoal-free luxury incense products. 

As of now, this Kanpur-based startup accumulates floral waste from three Indian cities, including one of the biggest temples (Kashi Vishwanath), averting 13 tonnes of waste flowers and toxic chemicals from reaching into the river every day. 

It is worth noting that self-help women groups handcraft the waste into patented charcoal free incense sticks and essential oils through the ‘flower cycling’ technology. Additionally, it is India’s first direct-to-consumer wellness brand to obtain the coveted Fair for Life-Fairtrade, and Ecocert Organic and Natural certifications. And, there's more, this IIT-backed startup has invented Fleather—‘leather made from flowers’. With this commercially viable, vegan alternative to animal leather, the startup hopes to make the use of animal leather obsolete.

2. Banyan Nation

One of India’s first vertically integrated plastic recycling companies, Banyan Nation is a waste management company that collects plastic wastes from industries and recycles them for further use. The startup utilizes its unique technology platform to integrate thousands of informal workers and produces premium-quality recycled polyolefin plastics (PE and PP) for mainstream and high-quality applications.

Founded by Mani Vajipeyajula and Rajkiran Madangopal, this Hyderabad-based company leverages tech-based solutions to collect plastic from informal recyclers and businesses. Interestingly, the company won the World Economic Forum Global Technology Pioneers (2021), Circulars Award at the World Economic Forum (2018 Intel-DST Award Innovations for Digital India (2017), Millennium Alliance Grant (2016), and mBillionth Award (2015).

3. BluSmart 

Beginning its operations in 2019, BlueSmart is an app-based all-electric ride-hailing business to consumer platform with about 600 electric vehicles (EV) operating in the Delhi-NCR region. 

This Indian company is currently competing with the industry behemoths Ola and Uber, with dedicated electric vehicle fleet for customers looking for sustainable mobility. Founded by Anmol Jaggi and Punit Goyal, the electric vehicle ride-hailing and charging startup recently raised USD 25 million (around 194 crore) in a fresh funding round.

The funding is a follow-up to the Series A round that closed in September 2021, bringing the total Series A investment to USD 50.7 million. The company said it has raised USD 25 million in the Series A1 round, comprising USD 15 million in equity capital and venture debt of USD 10 million.

The equity round was led by BP Ventures and Green Frontier Capital, with participation from existing investors. The venture debt funding comes from Stride Ventures, Alteria Capital, BlackSoil and UCIC. Additionally, BluSmart said it plans to use the funds to scale up its all-electric ride-hailing fleet to over 5,000 EVs and expand its network of EV superhubs across Delhi-NCR.

4. ZunRoof

As is a leading solar energy startup in India, ZunRoof is creating waves by focusing on the residential solar segment by providing best on-grid solar solutions. Currently with major operations in the Delhi NCR region, the four-year-old startup is expanding in other geographies rapidly. 

As per the company release, “out of the 1805 solar net meters installed in Delhi, ZunRoof has installed more than 300 solar net meters, claiming the top spot as an individual contributor to the residential adoption in Delhi-NCR region."

So far, ZunRoof has worked with 1000 households in Gujarat to go solar by installing 1000 solar rooftops in Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara. Solar segment is widely divided in commercial, residential and industrial scales where the sizes and complexities of projects vary a lot, the company release notified. Notably, the residential solar segment is especially tough to penetrate given the individual customer's need to be educated about the solar setup and feasibility of having a solar energy harnessing unit on the rooftops.

5. Ather Energy

This is an Indian electric vehicle company founded by Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain in 2013. Headquartered in Bangalore, Ather Energy manufactures two electric scooters, the Ather 450X and the Ather 450 Plus. Additionally, it has also established electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country called Ather Grid.

Electric two-wheeler maker just last month announced raising USD 128 million (around 991 crore) from National Investment and Infrastructure Fund Limited's (NIIFL) Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF) and Hero MotoCorp along with additional investors, Ather Energy said in a release. The company said it plans to use the funding to expand manufacturing facilities, invest in research and development, charging infrastructure and to grow its retail network.

Additionally, the electric vehicle company partnered with HDFC Bank and IDFC First Bank to offer retail finance for its e-scooters, earlier this year. The collaboration has allowed Ather Energy customers to avail instant loans from the two private lenders at low-interest rates and with a maximum LTV (Loan-to-value), as per the company release.

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