Cigarette waste is a crucial environmental problem as the chemicals & bulky metals can leach into the soil or water sources and stand a hazard to all living beings, from where they can penetrate the food chain.
Naman Gupta started a Noida-based startup CODE Efforts Pvt.Ltd, through which he is trying his best to help the nation by recycling cigarette waste into making sustainable goods varying from soft toys to manure, benefiting our environment and helping generate employment.
Naman Gupta: CODE Efforts
Naman Gupta, a Delhi University graduate, founded CODE Efforts, an organization that converts cigarette junk into various products.
“This idea was initiated when we saw the problem of cigarette butts in our area. We use to face the problem of inappropriate disposal of cigarette butts in our city. With this realization, we started researching & later on developed the concept through which we can recycle the cigarette butts in an environmentally responsible manner.”
The organization CODE – Conserving our Depleting Environment adopts the most environmentally responsible techniques & procedures for recycling waste & reusing it in the form of recycled products.
“We are putting in efforts to conserve our depleting environment.”
Besides online promotion regarding the adverse effects of cigarette butts, Naman Gupta’s company provides a collection service in their reachable areas in Noida, Delhi, and Gurgaon to individuals who are smoking at their residence.
The collection of stubs and ashes is very easy and suitable for both the customers and the company. The company provides them with the dustbins named VBins in which cigarette butts are collected.
“They can collect their cigarette waste in our VBins. Either they can just let us know to get the waste collected from their place, or we generally schedule a pickup within 15-20 days every month.”
This is how Naman Gupta’s company creates awareness regarding the problem of cigarette butts and generates cigarette butts directly from the consumers. Apart from this, Naman Gupta has several other strategies like ground-level strategies, having a business model for procuring raw materials from all over the nation.
Presently the company has operations in more than 200 districts from where the collection of cigarette butts is done. They have a supplier agreement because cigarette butts are considered raw materials for the company.
“If there is a company in Delhi, Noida or Gurgaon and if they have a smoking room we can provide them this service. The service has a nominal charge that is for 3 months Rs 600 and 11 months Rs 1500.”
“So this is a collection service charge that the customer has to pay to our company, and within these months, we will schedule a pickup. We will provide them a VBin which the consumer or corporate company can use. Wherever cigarette is being consumed, we can provide a service.”
But these services provided by Naman Gupta’s company are limited to these three cities only because currently, beyond that, it isn’t feasible for the company to send their representatives. Other districts have volunteers who collect it and provide the raw materials to their factories through couriers.
They also have contract holders, suppliers who collect the raw materials. “If someone wants to supply us the raw material from Mumbai or Bangalore, then they just have to collect the raw material and once they have achieved the minimum quantity that we accept under our association contract they can send it to our factory and, they will get the business rate for their raw material.”
This is the business model Naman Gupta has for other districts apart from Delhi, Noida & Gurgaon.
CODE effects are also involved in online promotions, campaigns, content sharing, consultation, and many more. Naman Gupta now plans to expand their operations in the international market.
“We have already started our operations in Nepal in June. Similarly, if we expand our operations in other countries also so that will help our business and it will also create goodwill for the Indian market because our company 99.9% of the things that we have, be it machinery, raw materials, equipment, chemicals are made in India.”
“Even the team members are Indians. We also have a very good gender ratio, and we have 60% female employees and 40% male employees.”
Naman Gupta’s main processing factory is located in the Nangli village in Noida, where they have tied up with the women-led welfare groups to help them manufacture the final product, separating the cigarette butts from unwanted waste various other tasks.
The process of separation is a manual task, so it doesn’t require training; with time and experience, the women are easily able to process the raw materials.
Naman Gupta: Journey towards Success
Since Naman Gupta has started operations, they have been receiving a good response from the entire nation, even internationally, because the concept as a whole is very good.
“We don’t criticize anybody if they are smoking; we are very neutral to anybody who smokes. But if they cannot dispose of their cigarette butts wisely, that is a concern for us because we want to eradicate the cigarette butts from our environment.
That is our motive; that is our intention. Till the time cigarette is a legal product, people will consume it, even if it becomes illegal, it will be sold in the black market so that this change will take a lot of time, maybe more than 50 years, but I would love to see that day also.”
“When we give our service to some customer, there is a collection done from our end, so in the first collection, we generally get 100-200 grams; in the next collection, it reduces sometimes. So it also encourages the consumers to quit smoking.”
“It acts as a shock therapy when you start collecting your waste, then only it comes as a realization or a shock that I have been smoking so much. This also creates a good impact on the consumer. We have genuine testimonials regarding the same thing that people have tried to curb their smoking habit.”
Apart from the social & environmental aspects, Naman Gupta and his team have generated employment for more than 5,000 unemployed people, job seekers, and volunteers. In the coming five or ten years, Naman Gupta hopes & plans to create a marketplace or a store through which people can buy their products and other sustainable products.
“There are a lot of sustainable e-commerce platforms that have come up, whom we have tied up as well, for selling only sustainable products.”
Naman Gupta being a social entrepreneur, is trying to maintain his balance between society and the economy. The company has more than three hundred designs in its catalog.
In the coming time, Naman Gupta is hoping to launch more & more by-products so that the customers have a good option to scroll from and choose from a wide range of products, which will help raise the sales & economy.
Naman Gupta: Challenges & the support to overcome them
“There has been constant support from my family and the public. Whenever I have any issues, or I’m stuck at something, the people I look up to are my parents because they are my best guides, and they won’t be shy in bringing out my incapabilities.”
“If I’m doing something wrong, they will guide me. Apart from that, the public support is such that it completely drives us to focus more on our business and grow our business.”
“The major challenge we face is regarding the awareness currently. Because cigarette is a very sensitive topic in India, not everybody is very keen to discuss anything related to cigarettes or smoking. Even if we talk about the legal aspects of laws that apply to cigarette butts, you won’t find much information or resources on this topic.”
“Therefore it becomes very difficult to encourage people to change their habits in the initial phase. If somebody is smoking and doesn’t want to change their habits, you cannot force them. This change needs to be build from within the people.”
Cigarette butts are not just hazardous, they are toxic waste. They contain chemicals that pollute our waterways and ground soil and risk our wildlife. Therefore Naman Gupta aims and wishes to do his part with his company’s initiative of recycling cigarette waste.
“I would like to be a better human being every day & try to serve the society as much as possible.”