About a fortnight before the new year, Hyderabad-based tech start-up, Recykal, made an eye-catching announcement. It claimed it had managed to collect over 70,000 metric tonnes (mt) of plastic from 207 districts in 19 States across India under its project ‘Samudra Manthan’.

Of these districts, 33 were in coastal areas and 173 were located on the banks of rivers. The company promised that this year it will widen the target to all 66 coastal districts to divert ocean-bound plastic to recyclers who often depend on imported plastic waste to pump their revenues.

Even the 70,000 mt ocean-bound plastic it has collected seems like a herculean task for a start-up. So, how did the Hyderabad-based Recykal achieve this?

“It all starts on land and not in the ocean,” says Chetan Baregar, Founder Member of Recykal. According to him, the strategy is to convince aggregators in coastal areas and close to riverbeds to connect with the company’s technology ecosystem. In fact, it is this tech platform that enables the start-up to scale its waste collection.

The platform works like an e-commerce supply chain and has a user interface for each of the players — the waste collector, the aggregator, the recycler and the commercial brand that needs to fulfil its extended producer responsibility mandated by the Central Pollution Control Board. The waste is then allocated to each recycler depending on their needs through AI matching of the supply with the demand. The tech ecosystem is also customised for brands.

“The economics works out,” Baregar says explaining that the SaaS platform helps businesses manage their waste generation and disposal while ensuring all their compliance needs are met. Through it, the waste dispatched from the facility reaches the recycler through SIM-based tracking and GPS integration, avoiding theft, spillage or improper disposal.

Recykal is working with several big brands and is doing more than only ocean-bound plastic. It uses the same technology to promote a circular economy in paper, metal, e-waste, tyres and batteries.

It also runs a non-profit arm, Anubhuti Welfare Foundation to better the life of waste pickers. The aim is to improve livelihoods, better safety practices and working conditions. And while helping this crucial first link in the waste chain, Recykal is slowly establishing a lucrative w-commerce supply chain for a circular economy.