Access to clean water and sanitation is integral in keeping public health intact. While India has made significant progress in this aspect with the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, there is still a long way to go. 

According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), around 29 percent of rural households in India do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. The availability of water is also a grave concern, especially during spells of drought. About 21 major cities across India, including Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai, are on the verge of running out of groundwater this year as per the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the NITI Aayog. 

Intending to improve this situation, Uttam Banerjee, Sachin Joshi, and Dr VM Chariar started Ekam Eco Solutions in 2013. The startup not only focuses on building humane and hygienic sanitation systems but designs sustainable processes to employ them. Its line of products includes waterless urinals, natural cleaners, sewage care items, and food composting structures. 

“Unscientific waste disposal and inadequate sanitation facilities affect both the health of humans and the environment they live in. The intention behind starting Ekam was to safeguard the wellbeing of people at large, and at the same time, conserve all natural resources, including water,” says Uttam Banerjee, Co-founder and CEO, Ekam Eco Solutions. 

NEW DELHI, INDIA – SEPTEMBER 24: Uttam Banerjee, director and CEO, Ekam Eco Solutions on September 24, 2014 in New Delhi, India. Ekam Eco Solutions Ltd. is a social start-up which makes Zerodor, a technology related to waterless urinals. (Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images)

Sowing the seeds 

The idea of establishing Ekam goes back to when Uttam was pursuing his master’s degree in industrial design at IIT-Delhi. Coming from the city of Bokaro, Jharkhand, the 35-year-old was used to living around a lot of water bodies and greenery. However, when he moved to Delhi-NCR, he felt anguished to observe the degraded state of the environment around him, especially the state of the river Yamuna

“When I noticed the toxic froth floating on the river, I could not help but do some research to find out the reason behind it. And, that was when I found out that several drainage lines were leading into the water, with only five percent of the sewage being treated. I wanted to do something to improve the state of sanitation so that such eventualities never arise,” Uttam recalls.

Zerodor is an attempt to recover urine and feces in pure form so that it does not pollute the soil and water and can be converted into useful fertilizer. The only way you can do this is to avoid flushing the pans. The initial iterations revolved around both urine and feces which evolved into a waterless urinal for men and women.

Solutions offered at Zerodor

1. Zerodor Waterless Urinals: A cost-effective waterless urinal without having any consumables (no recurring costs) can greatly impact the water consumption in urban areas. The designed product can save over 1.5 Lakh liters of fresh water in one urinal pan in a year. The amount that is currently wasted in a single urinal for flushing can support the drinking water need of 14 families for over a year. (http://ekameco.com/zerodor-waterless-urinals/ )

2. Care Organic House Keeping Solutions and Odor removal systems: Care is a range of organic solutions with wide range of applications ranging from cleaning of floors, bathrooms to washing clothes and utensils. Care also has room fresheners which are nonallergic are very effective on bad odors. (http://ekameco.com/care-organic-solutions/ )

3. Care Sludge Management Solutions: Care also offers solutions to manage the fecal/organic sludge in the septic tanks as well as large STP. These solutions are free from chemicals and are completely natural. The sludge is digested in a span of 8–72 hours and converted into nutrient-rich water which can be used for gardening, farming or even flushing. (http://ekameco.com/care-organic-solutions/ )

The day at Zerodor

Happy, Energized and Motivated. Being in a small organization, you always have limited resources and that is when all your creative juices start flowing in to get your work done with the limited resource that you have. All of us in the team handle multiple portfolios and are always excited every day. Every day is a great learning process.

Creating greener spaces

In the last seven years, Ekam Eco Solutions has contributed a great deal to the environment through its eco-friendly offerings. Having sold about 12,000 units of waterless urinal systems, kiosks, and many more of its other sewer treatment products, it has helped save one billion litres of water. Further, it has been diverting at least four tonnes of waste away from landfills every day. 

Ekam Eco Solutions

The team of Ekam Eco Solutions.

The Naval Base at Chilka in Odisha, the Eastern Naval Command at Visakhapatnam, INS Sardar Patel at Porbandar in Gujarat, and the Indian Railways also form part of Ekam’s customer base. The startup has been setting up urinals and composting systems in these institutions for quite some time now. 

Rashmi Singh, a 46-year-old retired naval officer, who has been using Ekam’s products, says,

“I have been buying a range of cleaning solutions from the startup after a friend of mine recommended it to me. Just the fact that they all are chemical-free and tend to keep natural resources intact motivated me to use them. Besides, they cost almost the same as other conventional cleaners.”

The Delhi-based startup is planning to expand its endeavor of providing affordable and environment-friendly sanitation systems by reaching out to more geographies in the future. It is also exploring solutions to knock out the usage of plastic in its packaging by collaborating with rePurpose, a global campaign focused on offsetting plastic footprints.