New Delhi: After a park created using scrap material to now creating a Garbage cafe, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) is definitely trying out new ideas to deal with waste management. Last year, Delhi’s SDMC made headlines by coming up with a one-of-a-kind park – Waste To Wonder. The park is home to replicas of some of the most visited monuments in the world, created from trash. This time the municipality has come up with Delhi’s first ‘Garbage Café’, where one can exchange plastic waste for meals. Situated in Najafgarh zone of Delhi, the Garbage Café has been started by the municipality in Vardhman Mall of Dwarka, recently. Sharing details of the initiative, an official from South Delhi Municipality said,
“Plastic is a huge problem in Delhi, even though there is a lot of awareness among people about the issue, not many till date are getting involved or taking adequate actions. To cater to a huge section of the society and help make Delhi a plastic-free zone, the municipality decided to kick-start a unique scheme of garbage café, wherein people will get breakfast, lunch, and dinner in exchange for plastic waste and not cash.”
One can avail of free lunch and dinner in Delhi’s first Garbage Café in lieu of 1 kg of plastic waste, whereas breakfast will be served in lieu of 250 grams of plastic waste.
An official further added, “The plan is to open more Garbage Café in Delhi and cover as many localities as possible so that with this scheme we can master our earlier drives of waste segregation because to get free meals people will segregate plastic waste from their homes and not let it go as mixed waste.”
India’s Garbage Cafés
Delhi is not the first city to kick-start this innovation. In October last year, India’s second cleanest city according to Central Government’s cleanliness survey – the Swachh Suravekshan, Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh initiated the concept of ‘garbage café’ where the poor and homeless are provided food for free if they deposit plastic waste. After that Kotpad Notified Area Council (NAC) in Koraput district of Odisha followed in the footsteps of Ambikapur and started a similar initiative where poor people get free cooked meals in exchange for a kilogram of plastic waste. Seeing the success of Koraput district’s efforts, even Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) rolled out the same initiative under which it started serving a meal in exchange for a half kilogram plastic waste.
Commenting on Delhi’s Garbage Café, South Delhi Municipal Corporation official added,
The Garbage Café initiative has already been tried and tested out by the municipalities of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. There the scheme is helping out the homeless people by providing them free meals in exchange of plastic waste. In Delhi, the only difference we are following is that we have decided to cater to all. We think if we involve urban people in the plastic waste management drive it will be more successful.
The concept of Garbage Café is not new. It is already popular in other countries like Europe, the USA, and Cambodia, to name a few.
Delhi’s Plastic Waste And What It Has Done To Tackle It So Far
According to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Delhi generates about 10,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. Of this, about 690 metric tonnes is polythene and discarded plastic items. Just about half or around 55 per cent of the entire solid waste generated in the city is processed at its three waste-to-energy plants, located at Ghazipur, Okhla, and Narela-Bawana.
To manage the plastic waste in the city, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee initiated a ban on plastic bags measuring less than 50 microns back in 2015. But the ban has become effective lately after the municipal corporation has started imposing hefty fines.
Last year, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has seized around 3,800 kg of polythene or plastic bags and imposed penalties worth Rs. 8.1 lakh.
In 2017, National Green Tribunal (NGT) put a ban on disposable plastic items like glasses, straws in Delhi NCR to tackle the massive environmental damage being caused by plastics. But to date, the ban has remained ineffective and the Delhi Government is yet to pass any law or guidelines regarding the plastic ban.
It was expected that the city would ban single-use-plastics on October 2 last year, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated a possibility of a nation-wide ban being announced on Gandhi Jayanti. But so far no official notification on the single-use plastic ban has been issued.
In the same month, South Delhi Municipal Corporation did its bit towards managing plastic waste crisis and showed their contribution in containing plastic waste. The corporation announced a ban on single-use plastic water bottles in their official campus in Delhi’s Civic Centre.
How Delhi’s First Garbage Café Will Make A Difference
South Delhi Municipality official adds,
The garbage café will run under the municipality, so whatever plastic waste will be collected via this café will be recycled effectively instead of landing up into the landfills. The corporation is trying their hands at initiatives like making roads using plastic waste, upcycling plastic waste in gardens, to name a few.