Everyday, we see hundreds of people smoking a thin cylinder of finely cut tobacco rolled in paper. Commonly termed as a smoke, fag, sutta or more so, a cigarette, we all know it’s harmful effects on the health. But have you ever wondered what happens after one finishes smoking and throws away the bud and its effects on the environment?
On a casual day, these questions struck the mind of two stallions. While Naman Gupta, 25, and Vishal Kanet, 28, were wondering about the repercussions and dangers of cigarette buds, the questions led them to find their venture.
It was just another casual house party where Naman and Vishal had met yet again. Naman is a commerce graduate from Delhi University while Vishal is a professional photographer who graduated in BTech from Sharda University. They belonged to the same mutual friends circle and have known each other for six years years now.
During the end of the party where they had met, they happened to notice the huge number of cigarette buds, lying all around the place and wondered what happened to them after they were disposed.
In the latter half of 2015, they began researching about the disposal of cigarette buds and found out that cigarette butts are the most discarded wastes and have severe harmful effects on the environment.
“We initially thought that the material in the butts were cotton based and were biodegradable, but we were wrong. It’s plastic and stays for a very long time after it has been disposed. Although, 95 percent of it is recyclable,” says Naman in an interview with KenFolios.
This is when they decided to do something about the problem and started Code Enterprise, in July, 2016.
The duo came up with a chemical process, which is the firm’s USP, to recycle the polymer used in cigarette butts, Cellulose Acetate, and convert it into several by-products. Each part of the cigarette waste is recycled, the tobacco is used to make organic compost powder, fly bricks can be made out of the collected ash and the recycled polymer is used to make cushions, garlands, small stuffed toys, accessories and keychains.
Naman said, “Since we were familiar with the Delhi- NCR region, we began working on the project execution in Delhi, Noida, and Gurgaon initially. We approached rag pickers, corporate offices and shopkeepers for the raw materials. We gave them VBins, wherein V stands for Value, to collect the wastes and more so create awareness about our venture.”
Till date, over 10,000 VBins have been installed for collecting the cigarette waste, generating income for over 5,000 people including cigarette vendors, individual smokers, office establishments, and rag pickers. The shopkeepers could purchase the VBins for a mere amount of Rs 99 for three months and would receive Rs 250 for every kilogram of cigarette waste collected.
Initially, the duo would go out themselves and collect the raw materials but now they focus on the recycling process and have appointed several associates for the collection and separation process.
They get a monthly supply of 300 to 400 kgs of cigarette wastes. One kg comprises of approximately 2500 to 3000 cigarettes so one can only imagine the immense amount of waste that is being put to good use because of this duo.
From collecting in three cities, they now operate in 100-120 districts and have several more associates under them who work on a contractual basis. They receive major chunks of cigarette wastes from Bangalore, Chhattisgarh, Pune, and Maharashtra.
They are currently working on spreading awareness about this good cause that they have undertaken and are trying to seek government support to enforce a standardized rate for cigarette wastes.
Vishal also claims that the cottony filter is cleaned and reused. However, they plan to turn the filters into wire meshes which could be used in filters for air purification.
On being asked about their future planes, Naman, who is the 70 percent holder of the company says, “We are working towards making mattresses too in the near future. We wish to increase the goodwill of the nation by taking the company and our services at a global level. Currently, the website is being worked upon and will be launched by the end of this year. We are doing our bit towards the environment, people are also happy with our work as they see our performance.”
We take immense pride in the work that Naman and Vishal are doing for society and look up to them as our idols, our role models. We wish them all the love and support for their future endeavors and hope that they expand multifold.
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