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Engineering grads blend environment with enterprise 

In just five years, Vasco based Sustainable Biosolutions LLP, is doing remarkable work in changing industry’s mindset towards waste management, discovers Diana Fernandes

Raghavendra Suryavanshi and Akshat Tyagi were second year ME students at BITS Pilani, Goa, when they decided to solve a sewerage treatment issue they were facing in the institute. Using the concept of environmental engineering the duo not only resolved the institute’s long pending sewerage problem, but it also marked the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey with the aim of giving back to nature.

Combined with the entrepreneurial spirit, ability to take risks, thinking out of the box and a small investment capital, the duo decided not to settle for a high salary job at an MNC but began a journey that would to do something bigger.

Thus, began Sustainable Biosolutions LLP an environmental engineering firm that provides technical solutions in the field of solid and liquid waste management. The products cater to sewage treatment plants, effluent treatment plants, biogas plants, biogas balloons, RO-UF-UV systems, organic waste composters, sanitary napkin incinerators and compost bins all with promise of being environmental friendly.

In the five years since they began the company, they have been running operations all year round and last year treated 1,642 lakh litres of waste water with this number expected to grow considerably in the years to come.

They point out that, 95- 98 percent of the treated water is of reusable quality and can be used in gardening, toilet flushing, chiller and washing. And that, they have even developed a technology to make drinking water from sewage and have termed it Toilet to Tap all in a natural manner and with no use of chemicals. SUSBIO® SBR is a revolutionary sewage treatment technology that they developed in collaboration with INRA a French Government Institution.

“Our STPs fulfills both Indian (Pollution Control Board) and international (European) norms. We also undertake design, installation, troubleshooting, revamping and maintenance of STPs of   various scale and have helped many clients reduce expenses by providing reusable quality treated water. We believe in using natural ways to treat the sewage and do not encourage using chemicals or any external microbes (E M Cultures),” says Suryavanshi.

A small scale food waste biogas plant is another product of the company keeping in mind the needs of restaurants and food outlets. For large scale food waste applications, another product, Nisargaruna Biogas plant is offered in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Center. Biogas technologies are also available for unconventional sources like slaughter house waste, fish waste, food processing industry waste and municipal solid waste.

Giving back to nature and reducing human damage is the credo of the company. “Environmental engineering is the application of scientific and engineering principles for the protection of all the living organisms and nature from adverse effects caused by human activities. We humans make use of everything within our reach to satisfy our greed. Our activities often damage the environment and pose a threat to our own existence. Environmental engineering is an attempt to reduce these damages,” says Suryavanshi.

But selling the idea was not an easy task. The duo acknowledged a huge barrier especially as they were youngsters trying to crack a deal in an industry that works on referrals.

“Most of the sewage treatments were being done as it was made mandatory by pollution control board. Very less people were doing it with the concern to keep environment clean. In such market it was hard for us to showcase our technical superiority and get a project. Everybody wanted to see at least one working plant before giving the order,” says Tyagi.

So, they decided to build a demo plant, but of actual size. They setup a 10,000 litre per day capacity plant that was able to treat sewerage from a 20-flat building. “It was a calculated risk at the cost of considerable investment and a bank loan, which even the bigger players in the market don’t dare to do. But the risk paid off when clients saw the plant and that’s when the business began,” they say, quick to add that their collaborations with national, international organizations and mentorship from BITS faculty Dr. Srikanth Mutnuri and Prof. Mridula Goel also played a huge help.

Five years on, the company is out to change the mindset of their clients. “We want to bring a behavioral change in the industry by providing excellent results every single time. We want our clients to install sewage treatment plants because of environmental concern and not for the fear of the pollution control board. We want to shift client’s preference from saving money by installing less potent technologies to choosing technologies which give better results. We also want to expand geographically covering major parts of India in coming years,” they say.

Currently they serve a wide range of clients from homes to big organizations. In future, hotels, institutions, shopping malls, apartments, hospitals, industries, municipalities and schools are also their target customers.

As for sustaining themselves, they say it isn’t an issue at all. “As long as people live on this planet sustainable bio solutions are required to keep the environment healthy and livable. The continuous up-gradation of technologies by research and development has kept us running. Collaborations with Indian and International organizations has given us an edge over competitors,” says Suryavanshi.

Among the company’s achievements,  Suryavanshi. and Tyagi are proud winners of the TiEHubli Big idea business plan competition 2013 and DBT-BIRAC-Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – Grand Challenges India Initiative (RTTC: India 2014) held in collaboration with BITS Pilani Goa and Ghent University, Belgium. They’ve also been two-time finalists at the Millennium Alliance for 2014 and 2016.

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