Brothers Anurag Meena and Satyendra Meena are well on their way to being hailed Indian heroes as they pilot their high-tech waste bin – the Swachh Machine – which rewards recyclers with clean drinking water. Both final year students at the Indian Insititute of Technology Bombay, the Meenas developed their plastic and aluminum waste disposal unit in just three months and are tackling two crucial issues facing the urban poor in India: water scarcity and waste management.
Marketed by serial entrepreneur Kunal Dixit’s startup Trestor, the Swachh Machine dispenses clean water or a token – or a ‘trest’ – for each plastic bottle or can disposed of in the machine. Alternatively, trests can be accumulated digitally using the Trestor app and each trest can be exchanged for 300 mls of clean drinking water at a local kirana – a neighborhood convenience store that can be found on most Indian streets. At IIT-Bombay, where the Swachh Machine is being piloted, it has already helped reduce weekly plastic waste by over 10 kilograms.
Trestor plans to roll out Swachh Machines in public areas in Bengaluru and Delhi in the course of 2016, as pilots in Chandigarh and Delhi are already functioning. The unit is able to receive both plastic and aluminum waste through different compartments, and automatically crushes the waste to maximize storage. Meanwhile, the levels of recycled waste are monitored remotely thanks to NFC and Bluetooth-powered interfaces which alerts the Trestor team when compartments reach 80% capacity.
The team has already established partnerships with various third-party manufacturers to produce Swachh Machines and they aim to have 5,000 made every month given their low cost: each one costs between ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh or $750 to $ 1,500. “We intend to inculcate a culture of cleanliness among people by incentivizing them,” said Dixit to The Hindu about the revolutionary new system.