Read in 4 mins

Using innovation to push social change

Project time period


“Techtonic – Innovations in Circular Economy” is a nationwide challenge in India to identify and curate locally designed, disruptive innovations addressing problems in waste management and at the same time improving the livelihoods of waste pickers.

It’s a fact. In order for the planet to cope we need to look at waste as something valuable. And to exponentially reduce the burden on landfills, we need innovative solutions to create an efficient supply chain and maximize the value of different waste streams. That is why we joined hands with Social Alpha and launched a nationwide groundbreaking innovation challenge called Techtonic – Innovations in Circular Economy

Through Techtonic we aim to create an enabling ecosystem stack for innovators and entrepreneurs developing waste management solutions, while contributing to social inclusion. The focus is on:

  • Supply chains efficiencies
  • Logistics traceability
  • Waste to value systems. 

Two groups of five winners, presented below, have been joining Social Alpha’s program, to receive support in their lab-to-market journey. The Accelerator is supported by H&M Foundation by USD 1 million USD. Social Alpha is matching this sum by investing another USD 1 million in the top three innovations in which they see the greatest potential.

Through Techtonic we are awarding innovators who can integrate informal waste pickers into the circular economy and create stable employment opportunities for them, while accelerating solutions for waste management and processing.

Putting the spotlight on waste pickers

The Techtonic innovation challenge is part of our larger holistic initiative  Saamuhika Shakti where eight different partners are working closely together through a collective impact setup to improve the quality of life for informal waste pickers in Bengaluru. Being a cornerstone of the waste management in India, the waste picker community provide essential services and drive climate action by reducing the burden on the landfills. Despite this, they struggle to make a stable income that is enough to fulfil their daily needs. The ultimate aim of Techtonic is therefore also to increase income opportunities for waste pickers.

Why India?

Techtonic – Innovations in Circular Economy has been announced in view of the rising amounts of waste generated from the rapid urbanization in India.

According to the World Bank, India is the largest producer of waste in the world owing to its population size. Lack of proper waste management has led to cities grappling with overflowing landfills, which are hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions, oceans filling up with plastics and leachate from landfills leaking into the soil and groundwater. 

E-waste and plastic waste have become lucrative with higher recovery and recycling rates, thanks to a policy push. But this silver lining comes with an ominous cloud as there is a focus on waste that fetches higher returns, neglecting other forms of waste. We address this void when searching for technological innovations that create value and transform even low value waste streams, such as multi-layered plastics and textile waste, into business opportunities.

“With H&M Foundation’s entrepreneurial heritage and spirit, we see it as both essential and inspirational to use technology and innovation to create social change. New ideas are needed for positive development, and waste management and material recycling are fundamental components of a circular economy. We are happy to support this innovation challenge and are excited to see what impact it will have

Karl-Johan Persson, board member of H&M Foundation.

Techtonic winners 2021

The five awarded startups of Techtonic 2021 were,

  • Phool – who are upcycling floral temple waste to an alternative to animal leather called ‘Fleather’.
  • Loopworm – who are bringing food waste back into the circular loop, creating an extremely protein rich diet for fisheries and poultry farms using food waste which currently ends up in landfills.
  • Swachha Ecosolutions – who have 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 – who are sourcing biomass waste from farmers to develop everyday products that are reusable, recyclable and biodegradable.
  • MuddleArt – who are sourcing pre-consumer textile waste and converting it into raw materials with positive socio-economic impact.

Techtonic winners 2022

The five awarded startups of Techtonic 2022 were,

  • Ashaya – who are upcycling the toughest types of plastic (post-consumer multi-layered plastic packaging) into high-quality products, using innovative technology.
  • Reti Ecotech – who are converting end of life-textiles into bricks and panels that can be used to create things like furniture, brick cladding and acoustic insulators.
  • Bare Necessities – who creates high quality products for personal care, lifestyle and homecare with a zero-waste mindset. The production relies on ethical sourcing from local farmers and vendors emphasises the employment of women.
  • EcoSattva Environmental Solutions – who aims to partner with government bodies and communities to establish solid waste management systems, focusing on resource utilisation, environmental sustainability as well as dignity of labour.
  • Padcare Labs – who offers an automated hygiene management system that can break down disposed sanitary pads into cellulose and plastic that can be upcycled into new products.

Project Specifics

  • Financial Support: 10 million SEK
  • Period: 20202023
  • Countries: India
  • Focus Areas: Inclusive Societies
  • Partners: Social Alpha

About Social Alpha

Social Alpha’s mission is to drive economic growth, social justice and climate action through the power of entrepreneurship and market-creating innovations. Social Alpha is focused on catalysing entrepreneurship for impact and provides critical technology and business incubation support to mission-driven founders through its product innovation labs and venture acceleration framework. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has nurtured 150+ start-ups, making 40+ seed investments and 3 exits.

For more information, please visit