Around 15 million tons of scrap tyres are generated in the world annually out of which a million tons are generated in India. The bad news is that these scrap tyres cannot be used for vehicles again due to the latest policy by the Government of India. So they are nothing but dangerous addition to our landfills. Have you ever wondered what happens to these tyres?Meet Pooja Apte, a young engineer turned entrepreneur from Pune whose upcycling company Blink Green produces a whole range of footwear that is made of scrap tyres. Reasonably priced and available for both the genders, these footwears are sold under the brand name Nemital which means tyre sole in Sanskrit.Be it Kolhapuris, Mojaris, sandals, or even heels, Nemital offers a wide range of footwear, both for males and females. And you will be amazed to look at the finished products as they hardly look like made out of tyres.Within a year of its launch, this upcycled footwear turned out to be a game-changer and is already creating a buzz amongst shoe fanatics. Priced between the range of Rs.500 to 600, you can place your order online and are shipped nationwide.In conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, Pooja shares more about her journey and how it all started.
Pooja holds an Engineering degree in Electronics & Telecommunication along with a diploma in renewable energy. Though she was placed after her bachelor’s degree, she always wanted to do something for the environment for which she took up the mentioned diploma.“I have pursued Electronics & Telecommunication Engineering from Pune University and an Advance post-graduation diploma in Renewable energy from TERI University, Delhi. After graduation, I got placed at Capgemini India (Igate India) in 2014. Following 4 years of serving in the company, I left it in 2018 and started working as a Java Developer in Insurance Domain. Yet I always dreamed to work in the environment sector. Being passionate about Renewable energy and sustainability, after engineering I took up a Post-Grad from TERI University over a distance course,” shared Pooja.With a degree in renewable energy, Pooja started to research about upcycling which ultimately led her to the upcycling of tyres. Soon she developed a feasible and environmentally friendly idea of turning tyres into footwear.“After post-graduation, I started studying about up-cycling. For the same, I started visiting established companies, meeting professors, read multiple papers, and got information about plastic and tyre up-cycling. Following this, with the help of mentors and professors, I started conducting multiple experiments on scrap tyre in laboratories. During one of my brainstorming sessions, I got an idea to upcycle the scrap tyres into handcrafted footwear. I have innovated a commercially feasible idea accompanied by a feasible production technique to use cut pieces of scraped automobile tyres to manufacture the footwear. We use scraped truck tires or airplane tyres (aerosols),” said the entrepreneur shedding some more light on her journey.
Like every entrepreneur you know, she too had her share of struggle. In an industry that is mostly male-dominated, she had to work hard even to convince the cobblers with her business concept. Not to mention, she had to constantly convince herself that leaving her secure job was the right decision. But as it is said, when you are determined to achieve something, everything else falls into place, gradually.One thing led to another and in October 2018, with the help of local cobblers, Nemital was successful in making two prototypes of tyre-chappal, one made up of 100% scrap airplane tyre, the other made of truck tyre and some scrap fabric (leftover from the boutique).With her sample products, Pooja participated in Startup India Yatra held by Maharashtra State Innovation Society & Startup India in which she received the ‘Best Woman Wannapreneur’ award i.e. best upcoming woman entrepreneur award with a cash prize of Rs 5,00,000. The entrepreneur has also received two more awards from the Environmental Club of India and the Trans-Asian Chamber of commerce respectively.She invested the winning amount in buying raw material for footwear and doing R&D for the same. Pooja informed that she has applied for a MUDRA loan recently which has already been approved.
Tags: Pooja Apte | Blink Green | Young Engineer Turned Entrepreneur | Startup | Pune | Upcycled Footwear | Plastic and Tyre Up-Cycling