“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” This quote really resonates with the story of 19-year-old Udit Singhal who saw opportunities for change and sustainability sitting at home.

The United Nations has selected Delhi-based Udit Singhal as one of 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His venture Glass2Sand reduces discarded glass to silica sand, which is then reused in many places.  

His journey started at the young age of 16 when he saw empty glass bottles piling up at his house. It made him think, and he decided to find out what was going on. It turned out that the recycling process in India had stopped for a couple of years, and this had led to glass bottles, which take approximately a million years to decompose but are recyclable, ending up in landfills.

“It’s a shocking fact that on one side we have the Taj Mahal, the seventh wonder of the world, and on the other we have landfills twice as high as the Taj Mahal”, says Udit.

Udit soon found a solution to the problem of glass bottles ending up in landfills. His solution was to bring in from New Zealand a machine that crushes glass bottles to fine sand, which can then be used for construction work, foundry linings, road-building and for other applications. Three years on, Glass2sand is not only contributing to a sustainable future but is also raising awareness with the help of digital campaigns. Glass2sand ultimately aims to create a zero-waste ecosystem by recycling glass bottles. So far, it has stopped fifteen thousand bottles from ending up in landfills.

Netizens in Delhi have responded enthusiastically to the social media campaigns around collecting glass bottles. The plan now is to replicate it in other parts of the country. Glass2Sand has recently partnered with Sepoy & Co. to dispose off glass bottles responsibly. The company has requested its consumers to connect with Glass2Sand for the disposal of empty bottles.

Says Udit, “We pay around 2 rupees per kilo for bottles that come to our facility, but the volunteers don’t take the money. They tell us they are committed to the social cause.”

Udit’s mantra for driving impactful change is self-belief and not shying away from getting guidance every step of the way. On being appointed as one of the Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, Udit says young people certainly have the capability to take up environmental issues and drive change. “Age is just a number, so you don’t have to be thirty or forty to bring about a change. Act fast, act now”, said Udit as he signs off.

Written by: Muskaan Mehta