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Ajinkya Dhariya: Reshaping menstrual hygiene and waste management with PadCare

Ajinkya Dhariya built a technology to address one of the fundamental waste management problems. Now, his venture is saving 100 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually and impacting the lives of one million women

Naandika Tripathi
Published: Feb 19, 2024 01:19:41 PM IST
Updated: Feb 19, 2024 01:28:06 PM IST

Ajinkya Dhariya: Reshaping menstrual hygiene and waste management with PadCareAjinkya Dhariya, Founder, PadCare Labs Image: Mexy Xavier; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap Outfit: Shahin Mannan; Styled By: Zainab Shakir; Assistant Stylists: Mannat Bhalla, Samridh Gupta

Ajinkya Dhariya | 28
Founder, PadCare Labs

After graduating as a mechanical engineer, Ajinkya Dhariya developed the world’s first patented sanitary pad recycling technology that recovers pulp and plastic from the pad for industrial applications. He encountered the waste being thrown in the open, visited the landfills nearby and saw ragpickers collect used pads and diapers with bare hands.

“There was a huge problem that needed to be solved and I realised there’s no technology built around it. I decided to make one,” he says. Initially a lot of people rejected the idea. But Dhariya, 28—born and raised in Mhasla town in Raigard district, Maharashtra—was undeterred and became the first mover in the market.

In 2018, he launched PadCare Labs, which focuses on reshaping menstrual hygiene and waste management to solve untapped pollution-causing sanitary waste problems, unhygienic menstrual practices, and the well-being of waste pickers. Their recycling technology, PadCareX, breaks down absorbent sanitary waste into high-quality by-products. The Pune-based startup also offers PadCare bins for safe disposal in washrooms. It caters to companies like Meta, Pfizer, P&G, Thermax, Mercedes-Benz, and Mahindra, among others.

The six-year-old company is creating an impact in 19 cities through 550 organisations on one million women while saving 100 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. A sanitary napkin that consists of 90 percent plastic takes somewhere between 500 and 800 years to decompose. To date, PadCare has collected 138 metric tonnes of sanitary waste and recycled it.

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“We went from 1,000 pads per day to 60,000 today by optimising our technology. In 2023, we inaugurated our world’s first material recovery facility in Pune, which has a processing capacity of 1.5 metric tonnes per day,” says Dhariya. Last year, he was on Shark Tank India and raised funds from Lenskart founder Peeyush Bansal and Emcure Pharma’s Namita Thapar. The startup raised ₹5 crore and saw participation from Nithin Kamath’s Rainmatter and Social Alpha.

“Our investment in PadCare was driven by its innovative approach to managing menstrual waste, a crucial-yet-often overlooked environmental challenge,” says Manoj Kumar, founder of Social Alpha. “This aligns perfectly with our commitment to supporting groundbreaking solutions that foster positive social and environmental impact.”

Ajinkya Dhariya: Reshaping menstrual hygiene and waste management with PadCare

The startup claims it has been Ebitda-positive for the last two quarters and is running around $1.5 million in annual run rate. “As a part of new revenue channels, we are exploring carbon credit and plastic credit as a market,” says Dhariya.

(This story appears in the 23 February, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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