How these startups are trying to beat climate change

Living in dangerous times
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Living in dangerous times

Scientific literature on the subject of climate change shows that irreversible ecological changes are afoot, and that the symptoms of anthropogenic pollution are beginning to manifest on a warming planet. The telltale signs are clear. Sea levels have been rising at unprecedented rates, cyclonic storms and earthquakes are becoming more frequent, and the earth's average surface temperature has steadily shot up over the past century. With mercury levels on the rise, climate change unbelievers will find it hard to challenge Thunberg. India has been ambivalent on its energy policy, committing to a renewable future, whilst still relying on coal to meet the lion's share of its power demands. But there are a handful of startups in the country who are trying to bring in a change in their own way. (Rohan Abraham/ET Bureau)

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What CropIn does
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What CropIn does

An agri-tech platform, CropIn, offers farm management software and mobile apps to agribusinesses, and data-led lending risk assessment to banks and financial firms. Kunal Prasad and Krishma Kumar launched this agri-based company in 2010 as a B2C startup, directly working with farmers. CropIn claims to deliver future-ready farming solutions to the entire agricultural sector. They deliver decision-making tools that bring consistency and sustainability to agri-businesses. CropIn is working with the World Bank in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh on a climate resilience project. It is also identifying a model where farming communities can adopt technology to create sustainable benefits - such as weather alerts on phone, best practices on farming, and advice on taking care of pest attacks. The company also uses remote sensing satellites to determine what crops are sown in a region, using crop signatures it has collected over the past five years. (Jochelle Mendonca/ET Bureau) (Pic: CropIn/Facebook)

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Betting on Better Plastic
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Betting on Better Plastic

India has become very active in banning the use of plastics and one startup, Banyan Nation, is manufacturing Better Plastic, which is near virgin grade recycled plastic from post-consumer and post-industrial waste streams. Better Plastic offers brands, producers, OEMs and converters a competitive alternative to virgin plastic. It is actually a fallacy that plastics undergo recycling because in India, as across much of the world, most plastics are actually downcycled. Downcycling happens when recycled plastics are not at par with virgin plastic and are instead transformed to a much lower quality. Unlike paper, aluminum and glass, plastic cannot be easily converted into virgin or original state. With Banyan Nation's tech, any car manufacturer can now recycle a bumper into a brand new one at competitive cost, thereby enabling more effective use of resources. While this is only one use case, Banyan has the tech to recycle any plastic, something it has done with its engagement with L'Oreal, where it carries out 'bottle-to-bottle' recycling of plastic shampoo bottles. (Pranbihanga Borpuzari/ET Online)

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Recycling waste
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Recycling waste

Nepra Resource Management's Let's Recycle, has one of the largest waste management solution in India. The company wants to bring in environmental solutions that can help the cities to become sustainable. They have a wide spread network of recycling facilities which tailor the needs of various costumer groups by scheduling and organizing their operations to suite every community's requirements. Since 2012, Let's Recycle has helped more than 500 customers become greener and helped more than 5000 poor people so far. The company has formalized the unregulated and unorganized waste management sector by sourcing waste from the marginalized rag pickers, and has provided fair and transparent prices. They have developed an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to track and monitor their activities so as to make the system more authentic and efficient. The company plans to divert 30000 metric tons of waste from the landfill by 2020, up from 373 metric tons in 2012, when they started functioning. (Pic: Let's Recycle/Facebook)

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Giving solar solutions to the poor
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Giving solar solutions to the poor

This rural energy service company has so far installed over 450,000 solar solutions for the poor. Selco provides various financing methods so that the villagers can pay in easy installments. The company combines door step service models and hiring local youths to maintain the solar systems in rural areas. Since its establishment in 1995, Selco has grown many folds over the years while promoting energy services like solar power to the rural poor. It has maintained modest profits in the last 8 years with growth rates at an annual average of 20%. It has reinvested its profits back into the company for further growth. Selco's solutions are designed based on the needs of the poor. It has 67 energy centres and so far have impacted one million people. (Pic: Selco/Facebook)

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Reducing smoke from stoves
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Reducing smoke from stoves

Greenway provides modern replacements for traditional mud stoves (chulhas) delivering 65% fuel savings and 70% smoke reduction while working on all solid biomass fuels. Using a traditional mud stove for an hour is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes along with eye, skin irritation and other ailments. Due to inefficiencies, traditional stoves require copious amounts of fuel, typically firewood for which communities often have to cut trees damaging flora and fauna. Emissions from these stoves are a significant contributor to climate change. Cooking on traditional mud stoves (indoor open fires) using biomass is a global problem affecting our health, productivity and the environment. Greenway makes stoves with their patented air regulation technology, which minimises noxious emissions leading to better health, savings, environmental benefits and everyday convenience. This is a single-burner, high efficiency cookstove that works on solid biomass fuels like wood, dry dung, crop waste, coconut waste and bamboo. (Pic: Greenway/Facebook)

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