In 2015, when a group of environment-conscious Puneites started collecting their plastic waste for recycling, little did they know that a year later their operation would grow from one small plastic bag to 500 sacks full of plastic every month. The initiative is jointly carried out by Rudra Environmental Solutions with the support of a group named Team Miracle.
Every month, the group members, who call themselves ‘Eco-Warriors’, collect 2,000 sacks of plastic, i.e. 4,000 kg plastic for recycling.
“Each sack holds a little more than two kilos of plastic material. It means 4,000 kg every month kept out of landfills, where they pollute the soil, drinking water and air. It means 4,000 kg which will not choke cows on land, and marine life in the oceans,” says Mita Banerjee, a Team Miracle member.
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After the launch of Prime Minister Modi’s Swachh Bharat Campaign, Banerjee had wanted to do something towards a cleaner India but didn’t want to pick-up a broom and clean the streets.
“Even if we clean the streets today, they’ll be full of litter the next day,” she said, adding that in December 2014, she came across a newspaper article that talked about Rudra’s project which recycles plastic and turns it into fuel.
She contacted the firm’s founder-director, Medha Tadpatrikar, who informed her how they collected simple household plastic waste, which they recycle in their Jejuri plant to make a poly-fuel.
“At that moment, they were collecting only around her office and home on Prabhat Road. I asked her if she would come towards Viman Nagar area, she answered: ‘Yes, if you can round up a large amount to merit a pick-up’.”
Banerjee spread the word and many of her eco-conscious friends and neighbours joined in. In June 2015, she sent an email announcing the ‘First Waste Plastic Pick-up’. “It was amazing to see Medha and her two young volunteers pick up our plastic bags with their own hands, and stuff them into the boot of her car,” she said, adding that next month, there was a larger collection, and one of the volunteers had to cart it away in an auto-rickshaw.
Each month, the number of sacks grew along with the contributors and areas.
Finally, Tadpatrikar bought a tempo, hired a driver and a pick-up assistant.
A year later, the group has spread from Viman Nagar to 68 locations which include Kalyani Nagar, Koregaon Park, BT Kawde Road, Dhole Patil Road, Kothrud, Kondhwa, Aundh, Baner, Bibewadi, Hinjewadi and Pimple Saudagar.