The Swachh India movement apart from aiming to make India open defecation free, is also looking to address the other big challenge – solid waste management.

In order to save the world, everyone should.

The first step is to make everyone aware about the waste hierarchy, which refers to the “3 R’s” – reduce, reuse and recycle.

The main aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract maximum practical benefits from products and generate minimum amount of waste.

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Paathshala School Mantra: We Must Treat Our Waste Ourselves

One town in India’s South seems to have cracked a way to deal with solid waste.

Mahabalipuram, 55 kms south of Chennai, is a UNESCO World heritage site with a population of 15000 and draws roughly 3 million tourists every year.

A steady flow of tourists generated tons of garbage that apart from other issues polluted the water.

In order to lessen this problem, a local NGO named ‘Hand in Hand’ took up solid waste management initiative.

Reports suggest the town produces some 6 tons of waste every day, however still it’s in news for all the right reasons. Well that’s because of its innovative and rigorous solid waste management programme.

The main aim of the NGO is to minimize the use of landfills, which is important as landfills consume space, are hazardous and cause air and water pollution.

Read: 10 Ways India Plans To Tackle Its Garbage Crisis

The key here is to ensure maximum waste recovery through composting, recycling and reusing whenever possible.

Speaking to NDTV, a local J. Prabhavati explains this unique waste management programme.

We follow a 2 bin and 1 bag system. That means we simply segregate our house waste, we put kitchen waste or organic waste in a green bin, Inert waste (waste which is neither chemically or biologically reactive and will not decompose like diapers etc.) in a black bag and a white bin is used for waste that is recyclable like milk packets, oil, plastics.

Green Friends and Motivators are self-help group members who go door to door to collect segregated waste from households. The organic waste and inert waste is collected on a daily basis whereas the recyclable waste bag is collected once in a week.

V.Parisutham, Deputy General Manager of Hand in Hand India added:

It is very important to keep Mahabalipuram clean as it is declared as a heritage town. Apart from keeping the town clean we are also segregating the waste into three different streams. Almost 75% of the population is segregating waste at source and we are able to recover 82% of the waste through bio composting. Also we have a bio gas plant to convert food waste into methane gas and ultimately into electricity.

According to the statistics, Mahabalipuram attracts over 3 million tourists annually and the hotels alone generate about 800 kg of food waste daily. The kitchen waste here instead of going to the landfill is now being converted into electricity directly.

The electricity generated is use to light 30 street lamps here.

The solid waste management model of Mahabalipuram has proven to be a great example that can be replicated elsewhere. This simple and cost effective technique is practical solution for all urban cities out there.

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