“Our Nickel Recycling Plant Will Take Revenues To Rs 500 crores”- Rajesh Gupta & Prassann Daphal, Recyclekaro

Highlights :

Recyclekaro has earned quite a name in the recycling industry of India today – more so in the lithium-ion batteries and e-waste segments extracting valuable and rare earth metals that go back into the circular economy. As the company aims at clocking a revenue of over Rs 500 crore next fiscal, Founder Rajesh Gupta and CEO Prassann Daphal speak in-depth with Saur Energy about their journey, technological breakthroughs, processes and future endeavours.

“Our Nickel Recycling Plant Will Take Revenues To Rs 500 crores”- Rajesh Gupta & Prassann Daphal, Recyclekaro

Recyclekaro has grown strongly in the recent past. Tell us about the journey in terms of opportunities, challenges & how you navigated through.

Rajesh Gupta: The journey has been quite remarkable. Soon after completing engineering, I started this company. Our idea was to collect data, put it in a system, have an application and provide timely services. We started in 2010 initially with paper waste collection. After 2 years, we started collecting electronic wastes but for that – as per the Government Rules – we had to establish a factory and get a license. In 2013 we began a dismantling facility and our actual journey of extracting metals from e-waste took off. The small facility gradually expanded, seeing opportunity in Lithium-based batteries. We started doing R&D in lithium batteries, and in 2019, we had set-up a small pilot plant for extracting metals like cobalt, lithium, manganese etc. Our products were of good quality and buyers like Tata Chemicals began to purchase our products. The market accepted and bought our products; this gave us confidence and we came up with a commercial plant. Our commercial plant is operational from 2021 and today it’s capable of recycling 200 MT of lithium batteries per month which takes us to 2400 MT per annum. This factory will be expanded further. Our e-waste business has also risen from initial capacity of 2000 MT to now 7500 MT per annum.

How is the recycling sector doing overall in the country today?

Rajesh Gupta: The Government has implemented EPR which has helped both the recycling and manufacturing sectors in India. EPR guidelines have opened up lots of opportunities. This year, the Government has launched a portal for both e-wastes and lithium-ion batteries. Hence, the system has become more transparent as everything could be monitored. Therefore, this creates an opportunity for all and the future definitely looks bright.

Tell us something about your clients. How do you support their quest of realizing zero-waste or acquire a more sustainable outlook?

Rajesh Gupta: We have quite a good clientele base. We work with companies like Bajaj, Capgemini, Accenture, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Tata Communications, most of the big IT companies, BSNL etc. When it comes to providing services, Recyclekaro has a very professional approach. We have different divisions like compliance, logistics etc. and because of our professional approach, we are adding more customers.

Recyclekaro Prassann Dahpal Rajesh Gupta Recycle Karo lithium batteries wate recycling metals waste management

Tell us something about your team. What new technologies do you employ that enhance the circular economy business?

Prassann Daphal: We have different departments and heads where the team is properly segregated – logistics, procurement and business development. With regards to technology, we have our in-house R&D lab where we have invested a lot for optimal extraction of critical and rare earth metals. In this R&D lab, we have quality scientists and IIT graduates who are chemical and metallurgy experts. The team helps us in identifying the wastes that come in because in electronic waste there are different categories of wastes that keep on coming. Hence, the extraction of materials from e-waste is getting complex where R&D and technology play an important part. For example, to extract lithium from lithium-ion batteries, we follow the hydro-metallurgy route. We have also filed a patent for the process of extracting lithium out of waste batteries.

How is Recyclekaro different from its competitors? What is your uniqueness/USP?

Prassann Daphal: Extracting more metals and deriving more value out of metals differentiates us. For example, in PCB there are different metals including rare earths like gold, silver, platinum, palladium etc. which everyone is extracting today. But there are some other precious resources like neodymium that are extracted from neodymium magnets which we extract. The plan of Recyclekaro is to extract those rare earth materials which no one is doing today. Today we stand as the only company in India which is extracting lithium at production scale, even though we started this journey just 2 years ago. Most players are at pilot stage only. We are also the largest recycle cobalt manufacturer in India.

Rajesh Gupta: I would like to add here that our factory is designed as a zero discharge liquid unit. In our lithium-ion factory, we are supposed to generate around 40,000 litres of wastewater every date. So, we have put up a unit where this wastewater is condensed and reused. One of the final products from this is sodium sulphate which again is a saleable product.  We have done high capital expenditure to ensure that our plant doesn’t become a polluting one. Recyclekaro is absolutely committed towards the environment. No wastewater, fumes and smoke is let out into the environment without proper treatment. Our factory is in Palghar, Maharashtra. We have a land parcel of 17 acres of which only 7 acres is developed. In the remaining 10 acres we plan for expansion in the coming three years to extract other rare earth metals transforming it into a ‘Recycling Hub.’

Tell us something more on lithium-ion battery recycling? How effective are your operations here?

Rajesh Gupta: Recycling lithium-ion batteries requires technological strength and we have developed it. We have the know-how and our efficiency in resource extraction is 95% and the purity level is more than 99%. If we have to recycle sodium batteries or hydrogen cells, then we will develop technology and processes. Recyclekaro is created to recycle whatever wastes that have critical or rare earth metals.

What else do you recycle apart from batteries?

Prassann Daphal: We recycle everything that has PCB board including laptops, mobile phones, desktops, UPS and white goods like ACs, fridges, washing machines, TVs, EVM scraps etc. We extract base metals and we also have a pyrometallurgy plant where we make aluminum sheets out of scraps which again go back to utensil manufacturers completing the chain.

Recyclekaro Prassann Dahpal Rajesh Gupta Recycle Karo lithium batteries wate recycling metals waste management

How do you evaluate the present policy support and what suggestions you make to the government to help the sector?

Rajesh Gupta: Government has come-up with strong initiatives like the EPR regime and now the proper tracking system is also created. We want something more to happen. The lithium-ion batteries are crushed in India but the power (raw material) is exported to countries like Japan, China. We do not have these resources in our country. There are reserves but it will take time to come in. Our resources are going out of India. The government should look into it and this should stop as we already have scarcity of such resources. If you check the data, you will be shocked to know these materials are being exported in huge quantities. The countries that purchase our recycled material actually reprocess it and then sell it back to us. This doesn’t make sense. It’s like our gold going outside the country.

Tell us something about your revenue estimates and future plans.

Rajesh Gupta: The revenue of Recyclekaro in last fiscal was Rs 108 crores and this year we will be anywhere between Rs 150 and 180 crores. It’s because of our team that we are successful in achieving this. Our next year’s projection is that we have to touch Rs 500 crores of revenue. We are coming up with a nickel processing plant which will be operational soon and because of this, we expect our revenues to jump from Rs 150 crores to Rs 500 crores.

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