20 April, 2021

H&M Foundation and Social Alpha announce top 5 start-ups with innovative waste management and processing solutions

Bengaluru, April 20th, 2021: Phool, Zeroplast Labs, Loopworm, Swachha Ecosolutions and MuddleArt have been announced as the top 5 winning start-ups of ‘Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management’, a joint initiative of Social Alpha and the H&M Foundation. This programme is part of the Saamuhika Shakti initiative by H&M Foundation in India. The program envisions to create an enabling ecosystem stack for innovators and entrepreneurs developing solutions to accelerate waste management, processing and improve the overall quality of life of the informal sector in India.

The top 5 winning start-ups of Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management are focused on developing technology innovations to move the needle towards a circular economy and enhance the lives and livelihoods of the informal sector:

MuddleArt: MuddleArt is creating a systemic approach to manage pre-consumer textile waste in India. The start-up has created backward and forward linkages to streamline the flow of pre-consumer textile waste and create recyclable material and upcycled products.

Phool: Phool is driving climate action and creating a circular economy by upcycling floral waste into cruelty-free bio alternative to animal leather called ‘Fleather’ which will cut down several traditional downstream leather tanning processes that are highly unsustainable.

Loopworm: Loopworm is producing sustainable food & feed by bringing food waste back into the circular loop. The start-up is doing this by creating an extremely protein rich diet for fisheries and poultry farms by farming insects to feed them using food waste which currently lands in landfills.

Swachha Ecosolutions: Swachha Ecosolutions has developed an innovation that processes formulated grades of multi-layered plastic and low value film waste; and adding them to asphalt for road construction. The start-up is also providing waste management consulting services and recycling waste streams across businesses, commercial complexes, municipalities and residential societies.

ZeroPlast Labs: ZeroPlast Labs is actively working on developing sustainable materials to replace plastics. ZeroPlast collects and upcycles biomass waste into compostable bioplastics and composites, which can be used as a sustainable alternative to oil-based and non-biodegradable single use plastics.

The winning start-ups will join Social Alpha’s Waste Innovations Accelerator – a one year immersive venture development program where they will be provided with access to resources to become growth-ready. The support includes 1. Market Validation Lab: an opportunity to implement their business in a new geography with Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), public or private institutions for a year to help them validate and refine their business model and prepare for scale 2. Immersive Lab: each start-up will be provided support in marketing and digitization of their operations 3. Technology and Business Incubation Support: winners will get access to Social Alpha’s incubation offerings such as mentorship by a set of qualified global and local experts in the waste management sector, go-to-marketing strategy support, opportunity to pitch to a large investor and donor network and potential opportunity to access Social Alpha’s seed support.

The objective of the Accelerator is to enable the start-ups to overcome high operational barriers in scaling to new locations, and successfully enter new geographies.

Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation, said, “We are so happy to support these winning innovations and are excited to follow the entrepreneurs on their journey. Innovation is fundamental to improve the waste management system, but it is also crucial to improve the life of waste pickers. By reducing the amounts of waste that end up in landfills waste pickers are true heroes, and new technologies can increase their income opportunities as well as highlighting the recognition they deserve”.

Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Alpha, said, “The need to usher innovations all along the value chain is crucial to solve the complexities of waste management problems. The winning innovations have demonstrated the potential to create impact and scale across geographies. Our Waste Innovations Accelerator has been designed to help these start-ups overcome barriers of entering into new markets by convening cross-sectoral collaboration with Urban Local Bodies, private institutions and civil society”.

The winners were selected from over 100 applications, based on a set of criteria with the focus being broadly on technology innovation, impact, operational scalability, and business sustainability. The applications went through multiple rounds of evaluations by an external expert committee and a jury panel. The top 10 finalists then presented to a Jury of experts from across different disciplines, with a waste management background leading to the selection of winners.

Social Alpha is a multistage innovation curation and venture development platform for science and technology start-ups that address the most critical social, economic and environmental challenges through the power of entrepreneurship and market-creating innovations. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has supported more 150 start-ups including 40+ seed investments.

The H&M Foundation is an independent non-profit global foundation headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. It is privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and main owners of the H&M group. Founded to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, H&M Foundation uses collaboration and innovation to co-create, fund and share solutions for the world’s most urgent challenges. To learn more, go to hmfoundation.com and follow @hmfoundation on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.