Monday, July 22, 2024

Forming policies & strategies for waste management

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Shikha Duggal

Plastic waste is a nightmare around us — only because we are not properly collecting and recycling the trash, leading to lethal plastic pollution. Nonetheless, there is an NGO that is laying its emphasis only on waste management practices. Known by the name of Saahas, they understood the process properly enough and started working on the root cause of the pollution.

“The journey of Saahas began in 2001 to promote waste management practices in alignment with the very progressive Municipal Solid Wastes Rules, 2000. Over the years, we have been innovating, incubating, and propagating waste management programs focused on two key principles of segregation at source and decentralised waste management.Coming to the digital world, E-waste has emerged as the fastest-growing waste stream in the last decade and India is the 5th largest producer of e-waste.

Bengaluru, which is the IT hub of the country is the 3rd largest generator of e-waste in India. E-waste contains many substances that are hazardous to human health and pose a serious threat if not handled carefully. Only 30% of e-waste gets recycled, of which close to 90% is recycled by the informal sector which results in poor resource recovery and uncontrolled release of hazardous material into the environment. Hence, we started a project to provide awareness on this to households and schools,” shares Wilma Rodrigues, CEO of the foundation.

Management of plastic waste involves two distinct steps: collection and recycling and end-of-life disposal. Both are not executed properly, according to the CSE report. Therefore, the issues! So, what Saahas does is — “The segregation levels in some residential areas are quite poor and hence most of the waste is being dumped on the roadsides in the ward.

Segregation of waste at source is the first step towards scientific waste management! There is an urgent need to improve the source segregation levels to ensure that the biodegradable waste is composted, the non-biodegradable waste is sorted and sent for recycling and the rejects are sent to landfills, and we are on it,” shares the former journalist now working for the NGO.

The collection of plastic waste is the responsibility of local government bodies. However, the ground reality is entirely different! This is where such NGOs come into play. “Early in my career, I used my fluency in German to work as a tour guide for German tourists.

During this time, I travelled extensively around the country. The ugliness of waste on the streets stayed with me through subsequent years. So, Saahas runs the Zero Waste Program also for bulk waste generators, like large tech parks, residential complexes, and institutions. These bulk waste generators are mandated by law to segregate their waste and ensure that it is handled by vendors empanelled by the local municipal corporation.

We also work towards closing the loop by ensuring that materials that can be recycled are made into useful products such as notebooks and roofing sheets with the help of tetra packs, t-shirts, and bags that are made out of plastic bottles, and compost is made from food waste,” adds the founder.

It’s a call even for the government to include the informal sector in the formal value chain of plastic waste management and protect it from the rapid privatisation of plastic waste management services!

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