According to 2013 estimates by the Central Pollution Control Board, a whopping 15,362 tonnes of plastic is thrown out by Indians every day. Out of this, just 60% is recycled, mainly in the informal sector. More alarming is the fact that 6,100 tonnes ends up in landfills or pollutes water sources. Determined to do something about it, CEO, Zilla Panchayat, Dakshin Kannada has set up a mechanism by which the local community deposits waste at the anganwadi each week. This is auctioned to plastic waste recyclers and the money received for this effort is used to maintain the anganwadi centre.
It took considerable effort on the part of the CEO, Zilla Panchayat, Dr. M R Ravi to make this system work. During his field visits to remote taluks of the district, he saw that people unlike in the cities who dump plastic waste on the streets, washed their plastic, dried it and stocked it.
“I wanted to find an effective way to dispose of their plastics,” Dr. Ravi said, well aware of its harmful effect on water bodies, the environment and animals who feed in waste dumps. He thus launched a campaign called ‘Gatepass for Plastic Waste.’
In this regard, as many as 1668 anganwadi centres in the district were selected, and their employees were trained in collecting and segregating plastic waste. Thereafter, the community was oriented to the campaign and asked to deposit their plastic at the anganwadi centre.
ZP officials were encouraged to see families deposit their waste at the centres which became the plastic deposit points every month. They seemed relieved to have somewhere to dispose off their plastic, and hence did not mind queuing up to deposit the plastic.
Plastic is collected from the all the anganwadi centres on the third Saturday of every month by a vehicle and taken to a designated shed for the same; and sold during an auction once in three months.
The income generating activity has gained momentum and a portion of the money so gained is used for the development of the anganwadi.