Waste management firm Nepra plans to expand to 25 cities by 2025

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mantra of 3 R —reduce, reuse and recycle — for sustainable development underlines the magnitude of the problem of managing waste in India and the world at large.

“All stakeholders — producers, consumers and the State — alike must adhere to this golden principle, which can contribute significantly towards solving the twin challenges of waste management as well as sustainable development,” Modi had said in a message for the Eighth  Regional  3R  Forum  in  Asia  and  the  Pacific, held in Indore in April.

Nepra Resource Management Pvt Ltd, a waste management services company based in Ahmadabad, holds the key to addressing the challenge.

Founded by Sandeep Patel, Dhrumin Patel and Ravi Patel in 2011, the firm, it claims, brings transparency and scalability in the highly unorganised waste management sector, benefiting bottom of the pyramid, improving resource efficiency and promoting “circular economy”. 

Impact investors Aavishkaar and Asha Impact have recently announced an investment of Rs 440 million as part of the Series-B round of funding raised by Nepra. The company had earlier raised Rs 280 million from Aavishkaar in multiple tranches.

The company operates under the ‘Let’s Recycle’ brand.

Nepra exemplifies the core investment philosophy of Aavishkaar where scale, sustainability and impact go hand-in-hand... We have been continuously investing in this company since 2013,” said Anurag Agrawal, partner, Aavishkaar Venture Management Services.

Product concept

The waste management sector is plagued with poor segregation practices, which result in overfilling of landfills and loss of valuable recyclables, including paper, plastic, cardboard and glass.

“We have set-up a state-of-the-art mechanised material recovery facility (MRF)  to seamlessly sort, segregate and perform value- addition on the procured waste. We leverage technology to help us straddle the entire waste value-chain,” said Sandeep Patel, also the CEO of Nepra.

Nepra offers scheduled waste collection services to its customers. The dry waste collected from its customers is taken to its MRF where it is segregated into paper, plastic, metal, glass, and other categories. Plastic is further segregated polymer wise and processed into lumps/granules which are then used to make various products like tarpaulin and irrigation pipes. 

Nepra has a processing capacity of 100 tonnes per day in Ahmedabad. It recovers almost 95 per cent of recyclables from the waste it collects. The balance 5 per cent is used towards energy recovery products, making Nepra an ideal partner for the Swachh Bharat Mission,” said the founder.

The company has more than 5,000 customers from whom it collects waste through 2,500 touch points. More than 1,800 waste pickers are registered with it. The company says it has brought in transparency in the collection and provides immediate and fair remuneration to waste pickers. It also procures waste from industries and commercial establishments.

Nepra co-founders (from left) Dhrumin Patel, Sandeep Patel and Ravi Patel; left: Nepra’s waste processing facility in Ahmedabad
Opportunity

According to the Central Pollution Control Board report (2012–13), municipal areas generate around 170,000 TPD (tonnes per day) of municipal solid waste.

The total waste generation in India is projected to increase from 62 million tonnes per year currently to about 165 million tonnes in 2030 and 436 million tonnes by 2050. Similarly, in terms of market size, by 2025, India’s waste management sector is expected to be worth $13.62 billion. This is where Nepra is seeing the opportunity.

Nepra, which is an Ebitda  positive company, generates revenues from the sale of recyclables recovered by it. 

The company plans to expand to three more cities, targeting Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in FY19. It aims to reach 25 cities by 2025. 

Nepra is targeting a top line of Rs 3 billion in 36 months and it had closed FY18 with a top line of Rs 310 million.

Challenges

“Raising debt funds to part-finance our projects has been a challenge, given the size of our balance sheet. We expect to resolve this over the next 12 -18 months as we scale our operations,” said the co-founder said.

Amiya Kumar Sahu, Founder & President, National Solid Waste Association Of India
Country needs more such facilities : Amiya Kumar Sahu

I am aware of Nepra since its inception, and the entrepreneur, Sandip Patel, who has pioneered this type of solid waste management in India in a successful manner.  Patel happens to be a member of our Association, the National Solid Waste Association Of India, Mumbai. 

Nepra manages collection, segregation and recycling of dry solid waste in a professional manner to prove ‘circular economy’ of the waste, in which all the stakeholders are benefitted. Our country needs more such facilities and encouragement from the public sector to solve the problem of solid waste management.

 
Surprisingly, Nepra has not taken any financial support from the government. This project motivates young entrepreneurs, but it should be supported by all local self-bodies.


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