Shayna EcoUnified India Pvt. Ltd. has been incorporated with the intent to create affordable structural materials from plastic waste. The aim is to reduce the dumping of plastics in the environment to save the planet, thereby creating a better tomorrow for the generations to come. This has been possible through a partnership with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL), with whom this technology was developed, tested, and certified for usage in multiple applications. Using plastic waste materials, we turn plastics into high-performance materials in the form of High-Density Composite polymer (HDCP) tiles and blocks. These materials are weather-resistant, chip-resistant, acid-proof, and durable. They offer better structural stability at a lower cost as compared to conventional materials in addition to protecting the environment from plastic dumping.
We have Mr. Paras Saluja, Founder & Director of Shayna EcoUnified Pvt Ltd with us to share his journey so far.
1. Give us a brief about you, your team, and your startup. What is the story behind your Startup?
I did my schooling from Delhi Public School, Ghaziabad, and further pursued a Bachelor of Business Administration from I.T.S College in Ghaziabad. I was always a sports enthusiast. After college, I joined my family business and then after 15 years I shifted my focus and took my first steps towards my life-long issue of reducing, reusing waste that’s present all around us, all the time.
As I grew, I became an avid traveler and during one of my trips, I was in Vietnam where I saw that they were very aware and sensitive about the waste they produced and how they managed to dispose of it. That is when it struck me that India is a big and populated country with a huge problem of waste being produced daily but not disposed of properly. I had decided to do something about it in my
home country and also found more about the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” When the idea to make a difference in the way we (humanity) were operating about our plastic waste struck me, I did not want to lose even 1 minute of my time not doing what I could for it to become a reality and change what can be changed.
Then I researched more regarding what I wanted to work on and contacted CSIR-NPL and together we came up with this technology that was later transferred to us. Before meeting CSIR I shared my idea with Mr. Sandeep Nagpal, Director Shayna Ecounified. After our discussion, we decided to collaborate with each other on this journey.
2. When did you start? How has been the journey so far?
We finally met the scientists at CSIR-NPL in March 2017 and Shayna was born on 24th May 2017.
My journey so far has been exciting and a mixed batch of things both good and experience, learning. Being an experienced businessman I understood the business side of things but nothing prepared me for the magnitude of the situation and the depth of knowledge one requires to actually start environmental operations. After understanding the working of this sector and gaining enough experience and knowledge I was confident enough to pitch it to Government bodies and corporations. I’ve come a long way and there’s still so much to learn.
3. How did you fund your startup? Also list out if you have raised any funding so far.
We boot strapped our business in form of loan from the bank and so far we have not raised any funding.
4. How has the business scaled in last one year? Please support with numbers, if possible.
In the 3 years of our operations, we have remained consistent in the last 2 years. Our work had gained momentum and mileage in the last one year with a lot of media coverage.
5. How do you differentiate from your competitors?
This is a new technology that we came up with. This technique uses plastic scrap and wastes disposed of by all of us, every day. Traditionally one uses cement tiles which produce a high amount of carbon emissions, uses huge amounts of water and energy. Also, it cannot be recycled and it takes time to produce the finished product. Whereas we don’t require any new raw material, we use the already disposed of plastic, essentially a waste product as our raw material to produce more sustainable and long-lasting tiles which doesn’t break, erode and wear and tear as quickly as any other product that exists in the market today. It can be recycled again, doesn’t produce any harmful emissions, saves energy and water, the polymers used in our products are not hazardous as they do not release poisonous gases and the process is under control. Its manufacturing time is much lesser than the cement tile.
6. What impact has your product/service created in society?
We have consumed 450 tonnes of plastic waste and converted it into beautiful, sustainable, corrosion-free and recyclable pathways.
7. What have been the key challenges so far?
In our journey, the first obstacle we faced was paying a price for the waste that was filling the landfills unnecessarily. Initially, we thought that the waste which no one wants and no one can use will be available at no cost to us and we couldn’t have been more wrong in our assumption. We have to buy and incur a cost for something that economies are trying hard to find a solution for. That is when we realize that everything will come at a price including reducing the problem of unfathomable plastic waste.
We had to create a breakthrough in order to establish a brand name and thrive in a country like India where set mindsets are a huge challenge. People often talk about climate change, saving the environment but they seldom do something especially if money is involved. Another challenge I faced was that even though I have experience of handling a business, I was clueless about the working and dynamics of the Environment sector as I had no prior background of it or the science that went behind it.
We require huge investment and also government support in not just the licenses but also with buying as the environmental changes can be best done if at large by the Government bodies and by the big Infrastructure and real estate companies.
8. How did you overcome/handle the problems/challenges faced?
There is no fixed formula for the same. We take the day as it comes. We are still in the learning phase and every day possess a great opportunity for learning something new which makes us more strong in both our resolve and our knowledge of things.
9. How did you build your team and how do you ensure they are aligned to the vision?
When we meet someone with not just the skillset but also the one who is aligned to our business dynamics, has integrity, honesty and works hard for a common goal, is aware of the climate crisis we are currently in and has concern for global warming and the growing pollution we recognize them as our kind of people and are very keen to work with them.
10. How has COVID 19 affected your business and what measures are you taking to tackle the situation?
Due to Covid-19, our operations of manufacturing and supplying the product and meeting potential clients took a back seat however it gave us time to collect our thoughts, plan better and make the most of our media presence and make our marketing strategy stronger.
11. What keeps you going?
The passion and drive to finally be able to do something for our environment keeps us going and reaching out to people. Also, the support of our clients and environmental enthusiast provides the much-needed motivation and boost that inspires us to strive for more.
12. What are your future plans?
We are looking forward to making people aware of the importance of sustainable living and we dream of bringing up the technology for various other categories that support sustainable, eco-friendly, and clean living conditions for all under one roof of Shayna. After all, Earth is the only thing that we all have in common.
13. Any message for the Young Entrepreneurs
Patience, perseverance, commitment to the end goal, and always see and keep the big picture in mind. Obstacles come for everyone whether big or small, young, or seasoned entrepreneurs. What makes one sustain in the business is one’s patience, persistence, and the knack for looking for different possibilities from all sources known and unknown and waiting for the right time till things don’t work out.
We thank Mr. Paras for taking some time out for the interview and sharing his experience with us.