Love Your Trash

Love Your Trash
Image credit: ThinkScream

Let’s face it, no one would pat on your back for keeping your area clean and keeping India ‘Swach’ (clean), it would still be a thankless job. This will remain as it is until people are incentivized to throw trash in the trash bins only. Mumbai-based Raj Desai and Pratik Agarwal, Co-founders, ThinkScream, figured out WiFi as that incentive towards making a bigger social impact. But the fun is in the way they are doing this. Entrepreneur caught up with Desai to understand the science behind it.

The idea:

We did B.Com together from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai in 2010. We started ThinkScream in 2012 to set up WiFi hotspots at various places as there were no free WiFi hotspots in India unlike in developed countries. So we thought of taking the initiative and started with setting up WiFi hotspots at cinemas and music festivals but we wanted to do something different.

When we saw people throwing trash anywhere at music festivals, we realized how big the problem was. We thought of how we could make throwing trash more fruitful. So we decided to incentivize people to use trash bins by offering WiFi every time they throw trash in bins. This was July 2013 when we came up with the idea of making WiFi trash bins and rolled out the final product in October 2013.

Timing it right:

There are sensors installed in bins. Once you throw trash in a bin, there is an LED screen that displays a unique code to you by which you can connect to the Internet. The duration of the connectivity depends on the use case basis and how frequent people move around the bin.

If people are moving around the bin quite a bit, the time will be lesser; otherwise people will be using it again and again just for free Internet. But if people are passing by the bin let’s say once in an hour, we will keep it for half an hour or 45 minutes. For the Internet, we work with the most affordable service provider including local ISPs for the particular area.

Throw it all:

It doesn’t matter the kind (organic/inorganic) or amount of trash being thrown in the bin, it will keep on sensing the trash thrown till it is full. We don’t want to sell just one or two of them for offices just because it looks fancy. We want around 2,000 or more of them to be set up at places like railways stations for a bigger impact.

Broader picture:

The bin is aligned to all three priority initiatives by the government – Swatch Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India campaign and Make in India – since it helps clean your surroundings, it is a digital product and completely made in India. We have already spoken to few government offices to sell them, but it will take some time.

Going forward:

There will be variations in size of the bin. Also, we are working on a new bin which would auto-segregate different type of trash in different compartments. Until the plastic or the circuit inside the bin breaks, it would last very long.

This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (April 2016 Issue).

Edition: October 2016

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