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ITC’s Wow – Contributing towards achieving Swachh Bharat

Sanjay Singh

Sanjay Singh
Division Chief Executive — ITC Paperboards
and Speciality Paper Division

Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in India are facing the challenging task of handling enormous amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated every day. Many ULBs in major cities and towns have not adopted scientific waste management practices and they collect and transport the MSW to the outskirts of the cities and towns and dump it creating huge landfills and consequent problems to public health and environment. Valuable recyclable materials like paper, plastic, glass and other recyclable materials go into the landfills. The ever growing problem of MSW can only be solved by implementing scientific solid waste management practices. ITC has taken up the Wellbeing Out of Waste (WOW) initiative to collaborate with the ULBs in implementing scientific MSW management practices. It has been playing a major role in transforming the cities and towns into Swachh Municipalities, which are clean with a healthy environment and contributing in the creation of Swachh Bharat, as conceived by our Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji.

ITC’s WOW initiative has the following objectives:

  • To inculcate the habit of source segregation among the citizens.
  • To recover and recycle the dry recyclables, paper, plastic, metal, glass and other materials and prevent them from getting dumped into the landfills.
  • To contribute to the conservation of natural resources and protect environment.
  • To create sustainable livelihood to waste collectors and ragpickers and enhance employment opportunities to other weaker sections involved in the waste management chain.
  • To contribute to the economy by retrieving valuable recyclables from the garbage and making them available to respective industries.

ITC has started the WOW Initiative in Hyderabad in 2007 and now it is being successfully implemented in Hyderabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Muzzafarpur and Telangana in ULBs of Warangal, Siddipet, Mahabub Nagar, Gajwel, Sircilla and Vemulawada on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Decentralised Waste Management involves various stages such as – source segregation, collection and transportation to Dry Resource Collection Centres (DRCCs) and further segregation of recyclable materials at the DRCCs. In source segregation, the recyclable solid waste and wet waste are segregated at the source. The segregated solid and wet waste is then collected separately by the municipal workers and transported to DRCCs. There the recyclable materials like paper, plastic, glass and metals from the solid waste are further segregated and sent for recycling. ITC has been playing an active role in various stages of the implementation process.

Implementation Process

ITC has been playing a crucial role in implementing the WOW initiative. It collaborates with ULBs, ITC’s authorised NGOs and DRCCs operators. It engages Swachh Dhooths (Community Resources Persons (CRPs) and trains them and deploys them to propagate source segregation among households. It collaborates with the ULB’s in establishing DRCCs and also trains NGOs in running the DRCCs.

Swachh Dhooths play an important role in educating people and practicing source segregation of waste. They go to every household and educate people about the importance of ‘Source Segregation’ and motivate them to practice it. ITC trains the Waste Collectors in collecting dry and wet waste separately and bring the dry recyclables to the DRCCs. The DRCCs operators buy the dry waste from them and further segregate the recyclables and sell them to recycling industries. ITC adopted innovative methods to create awareness among people about source segregation.

Breakthrough Achievements and benefits accrued

The WOW Initiative has several breakthrough achievements. So far a total of around 16 lakh households are covered in South India under diverse form of awareness and educational campaign and this number is growing rapidly. Around six lakh households in Bengaluru, three lakh households in Coimbatore, two lakh households in Hyderabad and around three lakh households in the Telangana State (6 ULBs) have been covered. ITC is hopeful of achieving a target of ten lakh households in Bengaluru and seven lakh households in Telangana by March, 2018. Thus by March 2018, WOW would have benefitted 22 lakh households in terms of changing their behaviour towards responsible and sustainable waste management.

Impact of the WOW Initiative

The implementation of the WOW initiative has a tremendous impact on creating a clean and healthy environment in the cities and towns. As it created awareness among people, they are practicing source segregation and disposing garbage responsibly and helping the ULBs in maintaining the streets clean and litter free. The retrieval and recycling of paper has helped in saving trees and in proportionate reduction of global warming. A total of 35,000 Metric Tonns (MT) of dry recyclables have been recovered and recycled in 2016 from the cities and towns where WOW initiative is being implemented. The environmental savings in implementing WOW initiative are enormous. The environmental savings from recycling of paper itself is very huge, as 50 per cent of the recyclables consists of paper. By recycling of paper we are able to save a few lakh trees from being cut for wood pulp purpose. It also results in the saving of huge quantities of water, power and space which would have been used as landfills. Huge quantities of plastic, metal, glass and other material are also retrieved and recycled under the initiative. It has created direct and indirect employment to the underprivileged.

The implementation of the WOW Initiative has benefited the ULBs in several ways. It reduced the volume of garbage that had to be transported and saved huge amounts. It has reduced the burden of clearing blockages in the flow of the drains which were frequently getting choked due to indiscriminate dumping of solid waste. The manpower thus saved is being utilised for managing other civic services. Vast areas have been spared from being used for landfills. The initiative has helped in maintaining a clean and healthy environment and is helping in preventing in the spread of communicable diseases. The cities and towns look cleaner.

A total of 5,000 schools in Andhra and 1,000 schools in Telangana were covered under WOW initiative which promoted awareness among 23.50 lakh children. To channel the awareness into action, school exchange programmes were conducted wherein students exchanged 1,930 tonnes of waste / used paper for the equivalent value of new stationery supplied at the schools. The material thus collected is put into recycling which helped in saving virgin resources that come from felling of trees.

Situation after implementation of the WOW Initiative

Implementation of WOW initiative has improved the sanitation in the cities and now they look clean as it has helped in preventing littering of the streets and choking of drains and also helped in the prevention of epidemics. Recovering recyclables from the waste is contributing towards conservation of dwindling natural resources and also in protection of the environment. The recovered recyclables–paper, plastic, metal and glass are made available as raw material to the respective industries at competitive prices. ULBs are converting the wet waste into compost and making it available to the farmers. The places where the initiative is being implemented look clean and the environment is healthy. The amount of space used for landfills got reduced.

Recognition for ITCs Contribution

ITC had bagged several awards for its WOW initiative. It got the ASSOCHAM award for Best Practices in PPP Model (2016), Best Corporate Initiative under Swachh Bharat, Best Waste Management Initiative in 2017, Safaigiri Award by India Today in 2016. The Government of Telangana honoured it with Swachh Bharat Champion Award in 2015. It was given three awards by Confederation of Indian Industries in 2012 under the categories — Most Useful Environmental Project, Innovative Environmental Project and Environmental Best Practices. It bagged CNN-IBN Eco-active Award in 2011 and Papyrus Award from Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) in 2009. ITC continues its endeavor to create more Swachh cities and towns in the country and contribute to the conservation of environment through its WOW Initiative.

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