Thu May 31, 2012 3:13 am (PDT)
Click on a bin An e-commerce company that helps people dispose of and recycle their garbage is finding many takers in Chennai Gireesh Babu May 20, 2012, 00:47 IST
Before Joseph Jegan, 29, came up with Kuppathotti.com, he had toyed with several other business ideas, none of which materialised, for various reasons. Jegan was clear about one thing: whatever enterprise he started, it would be an innovative one and helpful to society. One day he forgot to throw away the garbage in his home. An environment-conscious man, Jegan searched online for rubbish collection agencies that could help clear his garbage with maximum convenience for him. He did not find any. That's when Kuppathotti - in Tamil, the word means "waste bin" - was born. Kuppathotti.com is a website where Chennai residents can report non-degradable garbage, especially polythene materials, and get them picked up from home without much effort, and responsibly disposed of. "The concept was entirely new to me," says Jegan, "and I went and collected the information from a few scrap dealers and started this venture. It is 50 per cent business and 50 per cent social service."
Jegan, an MCA graduate, quit his job with a multinational IT firm in Chennai before starting his own venture. His wife Sujatha helps him, and is the managing director of the company. Kuppathotti targets various sections of society but the immediate focus is on middle- and upper-class households, since they generate larger quantities of non-degradable waste. "They feel shy to carry it out of their homes on their own, or are looking to make money out of it. Most of them are unaware of the harmful effects of non-degradable waste," says Jegan. Launched on November 11, 2011, it took around two months to set up the website. In the last six months the site has got more than 7,500 registered customers (registration is free). "We receive 100 per cent support from our customers," says Jegan. Currently, 13 employees help him run Kuppathotti. Customers have to log in to the website and with a few simple clicks, register the waste objects they have to dispose of. Every day a pickup team schedules a visit to a particular area of the city. Before visiting their homes, the team calls the registered customers a day ahead to make sure they are home. Currently, the company visits its customers every 45 days. "The collection executive visits our customers with a weighing machine, based on the customer list we provide," explains Jegan. The customers are paid on the spot for the trash items they have discarded. All the trash is dumped and then segregated in the company's own godown. Once segregated, it is given to the proper recyclers. Jegan says there is hardly anything that is not recyclable in the junk they receive. Kuppathotti does not accept wooden articles, including furniture, because it is difficult to transport. With the initial response being positive, Jegan plans to take the business to all the parts of India and to become an organised junk-collection entity. His company currently collects 10-20 tonnes of trash a month, and is looking to collect at least 50 tonnes a month to deal directly with the big scrap dealers of the region.
"Our future plans include creating awareness on e-waste. And we are also planning to expand our service to other cities in India," he says. These plans require funding and a few companies and funding agencies have already been approached. "It is a service of convenience, and most of our customers are happy with us, since we have an authentic system to weigh and measure," he says. Customers know the price of each trash item from the prefixed price list on the website