In August 2019, Sangli district of Maharashtra faced the brunt of an unprecedented flood that almost brought the district to a standstill. Not only did it disrupt the life and livelihoods of the people, it also brought tons of plastic waste with the flood water, compounding the existing challenges of waste and distribution of aid in the affected villages. However, the district which is considered the turmeric city of Maharashtra came up with a comprehensive solution to address the issue.
The district adopted a ‘waste to resource’ approach under which waste was seen as a valuable resource to produce sustainable benefits to the community rather than as a problem or a burden.
Further, Mr. Abhijit Raut, CEO-Zilla Parishad Sangli began a plastic waste management campaign, a significant part of which included an awareness drive to mobilise the community towards plastic waste segregation, collection and use of the same in the construction of an earthen dam.
“It was truly a people’s movement against plastic waste, the experience overwhelming,” the CEO said.
The process involved multiple IEC activities during Swachhata Hi Seva 2019 (SHS), waste segregation at source and establishment of linkages for enabling Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR) and the innovative practice of using collected plastic waste as construction materials for an earthen dam.
SHS 2019: As in the rest of the country, SHS 2019 campaign was held between 11th September and 1st October 2019 across 10 talukas and 699 villages in the district. The CEO informed that over 26 campaign strategies were designed and executed to reach out to people at various levels including government offices, universities and schools. Information on waste management, waste recycling, the need to reduce and reuse plastic, tree plantation, and nutrition was disseminated to people. It included door to door campaigning, distribution of education material, exhibitions, LED vans, digital banners, Whatsapp messages, etc., that effectively reached out to all groups of the society including women, men, youth, children and elderly.
The SHS campaign culminated on 2nd October with voluntary community participation on segregation of plastic waste. As many as 1,01,229 individuals participated, collecting 12,746.2 kgs or 127 tons of plastic waste.
Harvesting extended producer responsibility (EPR) for waste recycling – Over 50 tons of waste material that included packaging waste, single-use polythene bags, plastic bottles etc., were collected from flood-affected villages and segregated at village level through community volunteers. To harness EPR, recycling units were identified, and they were linked to GPs.
Note: The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) introduced into the Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016 is a policy in which the manufacturers of the products are made responsible for collecting and processing their products upon the end of their lifetime.
Plastic as construction material: Given that Tasgaon taluka receives very little rainfall leading to water shortage; people depend on water tankers for their water requirements. To address this, with support of patented technology by Mr. Sachin Deshmukh, construction for an earthen dam measuring 50 ft length, 8 ft width and 8 ft height began and is nearing completion. The system utilises pressure of a 60-ton hydraulic machine to convert plastic into 1-ton bales which are used as refill material in the dam. The reservoir with capacity to store 15 lakh litres of water will provide water during the summer season. Initial estimates suggest that the budget for construction of a dam has been reduced by 15 lakh rupees by substituting plastic waste as construction material.
Impact of interventions:
- Awareness of waste segregation in all 699 villages across the district
- Collection of more than 125 tons of segregated plastic waste and utilising the same for construction
- Substitution of approximately Rs.15 lakh worth of construction material in the construction of the earthen dam
- reservoir constructed has the capacity to harvest 15 lakh litres of water (indirect impact)