In the business of garbage

Yana Danilova

Yana Danilova found love in India, and a lot of garbage soon after. In the interview below, she speaks of the struggles of running a garbage management company

Yana, you run a garbage management firm — Krich Cleaning. You have been in the business for the last two years. If Wikipedia is to be believed, India generates 62 million tonnes of waste every year, of which 43 million tonnes is collected. Of this 43, 31 million tonnes go untreated to the landfills. Help us gain some insight into where is the problem — we create a lot of waste or we fail to manage our waste?

Both. As people, we generate more waste than necessary. If I had the power, I would literally stop some businesses for how they produce their goods. And as individuals, we are not mindful of activities we can undertake to reduce waste generation. Say — take our utensils to buy rice.

On the other side, there isn’t an effective system to manage garbage.

Garbage littered at the foot of the cliff

What prompted you to start a garbage collection company, here in India? And before you answer that, what brought you to India?

I was in India on a vacation, then I met my husband and got married. Since then this is home. We used to live in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, then we shifted to Mansari, Haripur. Here, I had to store the garbage on my roof top hoping that in the future I would be able to send it all to some garbage managing centre. Also during that time one evening, my husband and I were on a walk to see the picturesque view from a cliff. There I saw two local women come with buckets of garbage and throw all of that from the cliff. That scene shook the deepest of what was inside me.

After storing the garbage on my terrace for some half year, I went to the authorities to find out how I could dispose off the trash — believe you me when I say — I was told to dump the waste in the river!

It was time I found a solution and thus was born Krich Cleaning.

In a place where there didn’t seem any awareness of even understanding what garbage management was — was it not a challenge to establish a garbage management system?

Getting started was okay. My husband, Cheta Thakur, and I bought a vehicle to get to each house and collect waste. But the second step, to get people to subscribe to our service was not easy — as most people misunderstood us. They felt there was no need for a service like that. One time, a volunteer and I were going from shop to shop trying to create awareness on waste management; we reached a senior man’s shop who eloquently said that he burnt his garbage. To which I explained the harmful effects of it, like polluting the air. Pat came the reply — “You live 10km away from my house, how would the smoke damage your well being!”

So, yes I face challenges which only make me laugh. However, we have created an impact and now we work in 8 different panchayats, with close to 500 households and some 600 commercial properties subscribing to our service.

There is the other side of the company — being profitable, which is a challenge. The pandemic has made business difficult for us. We are finding it hard to pay the salaries to our employees.

Do explain the steps involved in the management of garbage.

The garbage first gets collected from the properties who have signed up with us. This garbage then gets segregated into recyclable and non-recyclable waste, of which the recyclable waste is sent to Delhi and Chandigarh. While the non-recyclable trash is sent to Rangri which is supposed to be a waste-to-energy conversion plant. However, it doesn’t process 100% of the waste.

And to state some numbers, we have cleaned up 500 tonnes of waste, of which 150 tonnes have been recycled. Hopefully in the future, we are able to recycle the waste right in Mansari.

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