Mumbai: Apprehensions, confusion and uncertainty – were the three words that dominated Indore’s outlook towards managing waste in five lakh households of the city after waste segregation was made mandatory on World Environment Day last year. Exactly a year later, Indore, has not only emerged as one of the first few cities to achieve 100 per cent waste segregation but has also been successful in addressing plastic menace, an issue that is haunting countries around the world.
It was only a year ago when Madhya Pradesh’s most populous city, Indore, was criticised by Pollution Control Boards, green bodies and environmentalists for mistreating its garbage and the city choking on smog caused due to the burning of plastic waste. Treating the concept of waste segregation as its stepping stone for developing a garbage-free society, the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) involved every stakeholder – citizens, NGOs, activists, Self-Help groups and authorities.
In 2017, Indore generated up to 1,100 tonnes of waste daily of which 400 tonnes comprised plastic waste. 12 months later, the city today has cut down plastic waste by 50 tonnes.
This was possible only because of IMC’s plan of developing a chain of managing plastic waste through a simple act of separately discarding dry and wet garbage. The routine followed a three-step process – Every household must diligently practice waste segregation; municipal trucks must provide door-to-door garbage collection service and IMC should efficiently treat the garbage.
From being termed as the biggest plastic waste generator in India to now sending zero plastic waste to its landfills, here’s how waste segregation is helping the city of Indore to move towards a zero-waste society this World Environment Day:
Waste Segregation Helps In Curbing Plastic Waste, Says Indore
As the centre announced a nation-wide execution of waste segregation from June 5 onwards last year, Indore prepped itself for delivering a stunning performance just like it had in Swachh Survekshan 2017. Distributing blue and green bins for dry and wet waste respectively was the first step taken by the IMC and since then several measures were adopted to create a mass behaviour change and bring in the necessary infrastructure.
The Indore Municipal Corporation under its campaign #IndoreRahegaNo1, has carried out more then 600 swachhta drives across the city to send out a clear message on the city’s commitment to solve garbage problems. The corporation has conducted a couple of waste management competitions involving all the wards. It is because of these competitions that many of the city’s localities generate zero garbage says Ajay Jain, Deputy Commissioner, IMC.
It was only after people got into the routine of segregating waste, that the IMC started recording a fall in plastic waste reaching the landfill.
Once people started keeping dry waste separately it became easier for the ragpickers appointed by the IMC to remove discarded plastic from it. Meanwhile the authorities were ready with the necessary infrastructure to treat it. Four months into the plastic waste management process, plastic going to landfills was reduced by 50 per cent by September 2017, says Asad Warsi, Swachh Bharat Mission Consultant for Indore.
It took another five odd months for the corporation to completely stop plastic waste from going to landfills.
Treating And Handling Plastic Waste
Disposing of plastic waste isn’t a viable option as it takes up to 1,000 years for a plastic item to degrade. And, thus, the purpose of collecting discarded plastic items and storing it in warehouses is defeated if at the end the plastic isn’t reused or recycled. From making bins out of recycled plastic waste to reusing shredded plastic in road construction, the IMC has created a smart model which is now being adopted by other cities like Pune and Hyderabad.
Plastic Collection Centres were set up last year by the corporation in collaboration with the local NGOs. At these centres, city’s plastic waste is shredded into millions of tiny pieces which are then bundled in blocks of 100 kilos and carried to the cement plants, where they are used as fuel for boilers.
With usage of waste plastic in building roads gaining a momentum all over the country, the IMC tied up with the Madhya Pradesh Rural Road Development Authority. Till now, a total of 50 tonnes of plastic waste has been used by the authorities in making 45 kilometres stretch of roads.
The IMC has also tied up with the local plastic manufacturing companies to put to use the recycled plastic waste.
“We tied up with plastic manufacturing units to give a second lease of life to the plastic waste by making bins,” Mr Jain.
Initially, 26,000 bins were distributed in the economically backward section of the city and today the number has increased to over a lakh. While bins were given for free in the first leg, the IMC then started giving them at a subsidised rate for the bins were special, “We did have an option to give it for free but that would only lead to people taking bins for granted,” he adds.
In addition to effectively treating plastic waste, the IMC has also imposed a ban on plastic carry bags under 50 microns. Every month the corporation seizes around 100-200 kilos of polythenes.
With beat plastic pollution as this year’s World Environment Day’s theme and India being the host, the city will bring in policy changes to the existing plastic ban rule of Indore. As per the amended rule, plastic manufacturers will have to commit to not produce plastic bags that are under 50 microns. Besides, the polythenes coming in the city from outside will be prohibited.
The plastic menace needs to be tackled in every arena. We hope the new guidelines will further curb the plastic menace. A notification will be sent on June 5 post which the designated officers will keep a stringent check on vehicles moving in and out of the city, explains Mr Jain.
Committed to ‘Achieving Clean Water, Clean Land and Clean Air through 3R and Resource Efficiency,’ the IMC will launch a massive initiative across the city on June 5. The awareness programme will be conducted in collaboration with the State Pollution Control Board. Four NGOs have been roped in, who will go from door-to-door to spread awareness. The commitment towards 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) can be reflected in the events that have taken place in the last one month. For instance, all the four Indian Premier League matches conducted at the Holkar stadium were waste free. Around 900 kilos of waste was treated at source in each of the match.