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Five promising start-ups awarded for their innovative waste management solutions

Ever heard of “Fleather”? That’s floral waste upcycled to a bio alternative to animal leather and it’s one of the winning innovations of “Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management”, a joint initiative of Social Alpha and the H&M Foundation.

The top five winning start-ups of Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management are:

  • Phool is driving climate action and creating a circular economy by upcycling floral waste to innovate cruelty-free bio alternative to animal leather called ‘Fleather’ which will cut down several traditional downstream leather tanning processes that are highly unsustainable.
  • Loopworm is producing sustainable food by bringing food waste back into the circular loop. The start-up is doing this by creating an extremely protein rich diet for fisheries and poultry farms using food waste which currently lands in landfills.
  • Swachha Ecosolutions has developed a breakthrough technology to convert plastic waste which otherwise ends up in landfills into alternatives that can be used in construction of roads.
  • ZeroPlast Labs is sourcing biomass waste from farmers to develop everyday products that are reusable, recyclable and biodegradable.
  • MuddleArt offers solutions to waste generators to manage their pre-consumer textile waste in a more appropriate manner and bring it into the circular economy. The start-up does this by sourcing textile waste and converting it into raw materials and connecting the sorted waste to thousands of people for their livelihoods.  

“By reducing the amounts of waste that end up in landfills waste pickers are true heroes, and new technologies can increase their income opportunities as well as highlighting the recognition they deserve.”

Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation

“We are so happy to support these winning innovations and are excited to follow the entrepreneurs on their journey. Innovation is fundamental to improve the waste management system, but it is also crucial to improve the life of waste pickers. By reducing the amounts of waste that end up in landfills waste pickers are true heroes, and new technologies can increase their income opportunities as well as highlighting the recognition they deserve”, says Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation.

Accelerator awaits the winners

The winning start-ups will join Social Alpha’s Waste Innovations Accelerator – a one-year immersive venture development program where they will be provided with access to resources to become growth-ready.  The support includes:

  • Market Validation Lab: an opportunity to implement their business in a new geography with Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), public or private institutions for a year to help them validate and refine their business model and prepare for scale.
  • Immersive Lab: each start-up will be provided support in marketing and digitization of their operations  
  • Technology and Business Incubation Support: winners will get access to Social Alpha’s incubation offerings such as mentorship by a set of qualified global and local experts in the waste management sector, go-to-marketing strategy support, opportunity to pitch to a large investor and donor network and potential opportunity to access Social Alpha’s seed support.

The objective of the Accelerator is to enable the start-ups to overcome high operational barriers in scaling to new locations, and successfully enter new geographies.

“The need to usher innovations all along the value chain is crucial to solve the complexities of waste management problems. The winning innovations have demonstrated the potential to create impact and scale across geographies. Our Waste Innovations Accelerator has been designed to help these start-ups overcome barriers of entering into new markets by convening cross-sectoral collaboration with Urban Local Bodies, private institutions and civil society”, says Manoj Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Alpha.

The winners were selected from 108 applications, based on a set of criteria with the focus being broadly on technology innovation, impact, operational scalability, and business sustainability. The applications went through multiple rounds of evaluations by an external expert committee and a jury panel. The top 10 finalists then presented to a Jury of experts from across different disciplines, with a waste management background leading to the selection of winners.

The innovation challenge is part of Saamuhika Shakti, a multi-partner initiative supported by H&M Foundation to improve the quality of life for waste pickers in Bengaluru, India.

About Social Alpha

Social Alpha is a multistage innovation curation and venture development platform for science and technology start-ups that address the most critical social, economic and environmental challenges through the power of entrepreneurship and market-creating innovations. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has supported more 150 start-ups including 40+ seed investments. For more information, please visit

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact

Malin Björne, Communications Manager, H&M Foundation
Phone +46 70 796 39 75
E-mail: [email protected]