Bringing together 18 case studies for different issues related to different components of urban waste management from tier I, II and III cities across India, the Niti Aayog has brought out a manual on ‘Sustainable Urban Plastic Waste Management’ that aims at enabling the capacity building of officials in urban local bodies and other relevant stakeholders at the city level on plastic waste management.
Niti Aayog brought out the manual with the help of UN Development Programme (UNDP) on Monday.
The document observes that local and affordable innovations in this sector are highly valued and goes on to list best examples.
The city of Indore, which is home to almost 2 million people, generates 900-1,000 metric tonnes of waste every day, 14 per cent of which is plastic, enough to fill five to seven shipping containers.
Indore, the cultural capital of Madhya Pradesh, which has won several awards for sanitation and urban waste management in the last few years, was yet again flagged as the ‘model’ to be followed by other cities vis-a-vis urban plastic waste management at an event in the national capital by Niti Aayog.
However, Bhopal was the first to adopt the concept of ‘circular economy’ – an economic system intended to eliminate waste and the ever-increasing use of resources – that offers a pathway to more sustainable resource management. It simply means reduced production, use and disposal of plastics.
This innovative model was later adopted by Indore through which plastic waste is recycled, processed and reused in the construction of roads, thus benefiting over two million people. Waste pickers collect and hand over plastic waste to collection centres run by the Municipal Corporation. The plastic waste is scanned and segregated, and most single-use plastics, which comprise half of all the plastic in this waste stream, are shredded and baled.
The bales are then taken for co-processing at cement kilns or used to build roads. It is a win-win situation: for waste-collectors – one of the more vulnerable communities in Indian society – as it doubles their wages and ensures that something useful is done with the plastic litter, the manual says.
A crucial element of the project’s success was the organisation’s partnership with the ULBs and local industries. Through the SHGs, the waste collectors – many of whom are socially marginalised and illiterate women – were organised and trained in waste collection and recycling activities.
The success of the Bhopal project led to the establishment of a pilot plastic recovery centre in Indore, and as a result, 3,500 waste pickers were organised into SHGs. In addition, given the occupational hazards involved, the local organisation also conducted regular health camps, and over 850 waste collectors are now enrolled in health insurance schemes, the manual has documented.
Earlier, highlighting the importance of urban waste management, the CEO of Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant said at least 30 Indians migrate to cities from rural areas each minute and given the condition of sanitation across cities, what is needed is a “massive ‘jan andolan’ over (the issue of) plastic.”
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, R.P. Gupta informed that nearly 7 per cent of plastic is disintegrated, 12 per cent is incinerated while as high as 79 per cent goes to pollute land, water, sea and soil.
UNDP Resident Representative, Shoko Noda said: “We all have a role to play in tackling the problem of plastic.”
The Plastic Waste Management Rules were mandated in India in 2016, amended in 2018 and 2021, to manage waste at the city level.
There are different categories of plastic waste defined by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which should be processed and recycled by recycling units. Single-use and multi-layered plastics are considered the most difficult to process or recycle.