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Pom Pom Would Like to Pay for Your Garbage

Step out into the streets of Delhi any time of the day you will be assaulted by garbage that is rising by the day. Paper, plastic, foil, food waste strewn everywhere with nowhere to go. Startups like Pom Pom are taking the initiative in creating awareness, making recycling fun and hope incentivising Delhiites will create a loyal customer base for them while helping to keep the city cleaner.

Photo Credit : The Hindu,

Co-founders of Pom Pom Kishore K Thakur (COO) and Deepak Sethi (CEO)
Representational image of overflowing garbage sites across Delhi

Delhi generates approximately 8500 tonnes of solid municipal waste in a day out of which approximately 17% is recyclable. Pom Pom believes that if every household, school, corporate etc is given a small incentive to store their dry waste and start segregation at source of materials it can go a long way for the Recycling Industry in India.

We speak to Co-Founders: Deepak Sethi (CEO) and Kishore K Thakur (COO) to find out more.

How did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

We have been in the line of Waste Management for the last 10 years through Subhash Projects and Marketing Ltd (SPML – the Indian counterpart of a joint venture awarded the contract by the Delhi government to manage urban waste) and Delhi Waste Management (the name of the joint venture company formed between SPML and Tetrapak, a North Columbian company to manage the contract). We are extremely passionate about this business because we have never really looked at this as Waste. For us it’s ‘Recyclables’: Waste paper & PET bottles etc. are raw materials that can be made into recycled paper & Polyester yarn respectively and we want people to be aware about this. Our experience in handling Delhi Waste made us realize how much recyclable material is generated in Delhi. A lot of this material gets contaminated when mixed with wet waste and hence does not get recycled properly.

Hence we launched Pom Pom 18th November, 2015, which is a web based recycling platform where Door to Door Recyclable Waste collection service is provided that pays you for your segregated waste. There are so many recyclable items that households simply throw away and these end up choking a landfill. We want to stop this wastage of resources and encourage a circular economy of Producing-Using-Recycling. We encourage people to segregate at source by paying them for the recyclables they collect.

We want to change people’s perception to their waste. If we create awareness and incentivise people, they will get into this essential habit as part of their daily routine.

So since starting in November, 2015, how has business been?

We have seen our waste collection volumes go up in the last few months. In the first 2 months Pom Pom had a growth rate of more than 100% and since then the company has been growing at a rate of 50% in terms of number of orders and quantity collected.

Company has collected more than 12000 orders and recycled more than a million kilograms of recyclables till date. From a mere collection of 26 tonnes in our first month, we have collected more than 350 tonnes in the last month. Approximately 700 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is generated in the South Zone of Delhi on a daily basis.

What is the market size and market opportunity of Waste Management?

Delhi generates approximately 8500 tonnes of solid municipal waste in a day out of which approximately17% is recyclable. Hence waste volumes are everywhere. We just need to tap into this and make people see the value of their waste.

In addition, with Swachh Bharat and cleanliness drives catching on, people are also becoming more aware about waste issues. Recycling waste is the only logical step to make Swachh Bharat a success and we believe segregation at source and recycling will definitely become a movement.

And how do you plan to tap into this market?

We want to create a recycling revolution: we want every waste generator in India to think of waste as raw material and realize the importance of segregation and recycling. We want Pom Pom to be a household name.

We focus a lot of creating awareness and sensitizing people to waste.

How will you monetize Pom Pom?

Our revenue model is based on sale of recyclables. We buy the recyclables, segregate it further, and sell it to end recyclers/industries in bulk. We believe if we generate enough volume, sustaining our business will not be an issue. We are looking at a bit of forward integration in our processes as well to get more value out of this.

What were the challenges your startup faced while setting up?

The biggest challenge is spreading awareness at a grass root level. Though people are now getting familiar with the idea of segregation, they still don’t understand the entire supply chain of recycling in terms of what can be recycled and how.

As of now, most people don’t know where their waste goes and don’t bother to segregate. We want to change that.

We buy only segregated waste. To create awareness we also conduct recycling workshops for residents and school children teaching them about the importance of recycling.

How exactly does Pom Pom work?

Pom Pom offers a service that everyone can use: a doorstep recyclable pick up service. We buy all recyclable waste materials such as paper, plastics, glass, metal and even electronic waste now. 

The client places an order over the phone/web/app and our recycling agents and van go to their doorstep. Our goal is to provide an easy platform to recycle and be environmentally conscious.What’s more we even pay for what we collect which works as a good incentive for segregation!

Our customers are homes, offices, restaurants, embassies, schools etc.

Some of our notable clients are business chambers like PHD and Assocham, organizations like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Embassy of Netherlands, High Commission of Mauritius; Schools such as British School, Foundation School and Holy Child.

Tell us about how you gained funding. Do you also plan to raise more funds?

Yes, we do plan to raise funds but at an appropriate time. We would like to get our operations sorted, stabilize our process and then grow. That’s when we plan to raise fund.

The funds raised will be used for investments in logistics, vehicles, collection facilities, IT infrastructure etc.

Currently, we have approximately invested Rs 10 million for this venture out of our own capital. We are focusing first and foremost into making this model profitable and scalable.

We know Pom Pom is new but are there any future plans?

Eventually we want to set up recycling plants as well for different categories of waste.

How is your business model different from the existing ones?

Our concept is different because we have tried to make waste segregation and recycling as fun and effortless as possible. We are just a phone call away and offer convenient collection schedules as well.

In Delhi, we are one of the few to offer doorstep collection for electronic waste as well.

We incentivize this by paying consumers for the segregated recyclables as well. In addition, we deal in most kinds of dry recyclable waste.

You can order on our Pom Pom app or website - just like any other service you use like ordering food online.

We want you to store even your small shred of waste or a cornflakes cereal cover! We don’t have minimum quantity and we buy pretty much every kind recyclable waste.

The best and worst memories while setting up …

Our memories till now are very good. It’s great when corporates value your service. It is also an amazing feeling when children call us at our call centre and convince their parents to start recycling and become environment friendly.

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