Banyan Nation emerges as the winner of the Intel & DST Innovate for Digital India Challenge 2.0.

Changing the way India recycles, the start-up is working to effectively manage waste management.

Driving the dual agenda of Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities, sustainable waste management startup, Banyan Sustainable Waste Management Pvt. Ltd. (“Banyan Nation”), incubated at T-Hub Foundation (“T-Hub”), has been announced as the grand winner of the Intel & DST Innovate for Digital India Challenge 2.0 (Challenge 2.0). The winning team- Mani Vajipey and Raj Madangopal has developed a zero-waste platform based on an Intel® Edison board for Arduino, Intel® IoT analytics platform and the Intel® powered Jan Unnati tablet, to streamline and automate urban recycling operations at every stage. Combining informatics and hardware engineering, Banyan Nation’s management system aims to root out bottlenecks in India’s recycling value chain.

To manage the 62 million tonnes of municipal waste generated annually in India, Banyan Nation has developed a modular system, customizable to the requirements of different municipalities and third-party system integrators. In its first pilot project, currently in its beta stage in Warangal, Telangana, it has deployed on-field bin sensors, GPS truck routers, landfill management toolkits and back-end visualization and analytic engines to monitor and synchronize waste management.

With the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) recent proposal to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) in waste management under the Smart City program, there is immense potential for sensor-enabled devices to transform waste disposal.

India has long prioritized waste management as a core development goal, and reforms such as the government’s legal mandate to segregate of waste at source, has raised civic consciousness about smart waste management. Identifying the role that hazardous waste plays in perpetuating India’s status quo and informal sector, the founders of Banyan Nation, Raj Madangopal and Mani Vajipey, entered Challenge 2.0 as part of this trend of citizen participation in cleaning and greening India.

Prakash Mallya, Managing Director – Sales & Marketing Group, Intel Technology India Pvt. Ltd said “Today’s winners epitomize the philosophy of the Intel & DST - Innovate for Digital India Challenge 2.0, which is to build a fairer, more equitable India, by improving access to technology. As India forges ahead as a global innovator, harnessing citizen potential and ideation has become indispensable to releasing new services and solutions back into the Indian economy. This year, we expanded the scope of Challenge 2.0 by including the categories of smart city and sustainability, under which some of the most innovative solutions such as Banyan Nation have emerged. We look forward to the new heights our top teams will reach as they become role models and inspire other citizens to be the change in their communities”.

Jay Krishnan, CEO, T-Hub added “With the government laying the pathway for Digital India, we are at the precipice of a truly transformative phase in development. As an essentially democratic force, we have witnessed the power of technology as it creates opportunities for marginalized communities and accelerates growth for the country as a whole. We are honoured to anchor Challenge 2.0 in collaboration with Intel, DST, MyGov and MeitY. In our experience, startups are keen to offer solutions that not only have business potential, but also those that disengage socio-economic orders that are at odds with inclusive development. This intensive programme, which has spanned over six months, has equipped the chosen start-ups with a global perspective to ensure that their game changing ideas translate to reality.”

During the Challenge 2.0 accelerator, Banyan Nation also developed Better Plastic™, a high-grade plastic made from recycled material. By leveraging its platform that connects the demand for recycled plastic with its supply, Banyan Nation aims to formalize the recycling sector by closing the loop between industry and waste aggregators. Given that India Inc. generated 7.8 million tonnes of hazardous waste in 2015-16, the company foresees the application of Better Plastic™ for the product and packaging requirements for electronics, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and FMCGs.

To track worker attendance, Banyan has leveraged the Intel® Atom processor based Janunnati Pad*, a touch enabled mobile device that allows Aadhaar based biometric authentication; while, for the bin sensors, the team is using the Intel® Edison development platform, with its Bluetooth Low Energy* and Wi-Fi* capabilities and ultrasonic sensors.

Banyan’s prototype is currently being tested in Warangal. Its modular design and the fact that it plugs into existing MSW systems makes it affordable, as well as customizable to the differing needs of municipalities and third-party system integrators developing smart city solutions. To Mani and Raj, the possibilities are endless, and exciting: For instance, towns situated within 100 km of one another could join hands and deploy their solution, leading not only to significant economies through sharing of resources, but the generation of data that could throw up patterns around waste flows, material recovery, and resource recovery, thereby helping the government create the right infrastructure for a Swachh Bharat.