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Madras Waste Exchange: In a first, Chennai launches online portal for recyclable scrap

The first of its kind in India, Madras Waste Exchange is a web portal that facilitates the trade of recyclable waste, both scrap materials and recycled products in Chennai.

Written by Shivani Ramakrishnan | Chennai | Published: December 25, 2019 6:36:16 pm
Pallikaranai, Marshland, Pallikaranai dump yard, Madras High Court, Chennai ecological balance, Chennai water, Supreme Court, Indian Express News, Chennai News The Madras Waste Exchange aims to connect buyers and sellers to recycle non-biodegradable waste. Express Photo: Shivani Ramakrishnan

In a bid to address the waste management issue in the city and reduce their carbon footprint, citizens of Chennai have begun segregating waste and recycling non-biodegradable waste generated in their households every day.

However, with recycling, arises the question: What do you do with the recycled products? This is where the Madras Waste Exchange comes in.

Madras Waste Exchange is a web portal-cum-mobile application that facilitates the trading of recyclable non-biodegradable waste by providing an online market to purchase and sell recyclable scrap materials and recycled products in Chennai.

Developed under Smart City Mission, the website, which is the first of its kind in India, was launched by G Prakash, the Commissioner of the Greater Chennai Corporation in Chennai on December 13.

“The website is one of many solutions to tackle the issue of waste management in the city. Instead of tackling the issue in a traditional way, we wanted to take a different approach so we came up with the Madras Waste Exchange”, Azhagu Pandia Raja M P, Fellow with India Smart Cities and one of the three creators of Madras Waste Exchange told Indianexpress.com.

As a part of their fellowship, Azhagu and two others had studied waste management in Chennai for months, where they observed that while the amount of waste generated in Chennai was huge, very little of it was being recycled. “There is a need for waste management and recycling, both of which are not connected. We found that there is a mismatch and wondered if there could be a market place that could connect the two, following which the Madras Waste Exchange was created”, he said.

Madras Waste Exchange, Chennai Garbage, Smart City Mission The website indicates the number of sellers available in the city.

The Madras Waste Exchange website helps buyers and sellers identify each other through geotags. Traders have to register themselves on the Madras Waste Exchange and provide their location details, following which a One Time Password (OTP) will be sent to their registered mobile numbers for verification. Once verification is done, other registered buyers and sellers can view the materials for sale using the concerned vendor’s geotag.

Sellers can register themselves on the Madras Waste Exchange portal on https://www.madraswasteexchange.com/#/. The app, which has only been launched for buyers, can be downloaded from the Google Playstore.

Individuals, apartment complexes, offices, schools, religious institutions and other establishments in the city can register themselves as traders in the exchange. According to Azhagu, around 2000 scrap dealers, 600 buyers and 420 sellers have registered themselves so far. The portal connects buyers and sellers with each other directly, thus eliminating middlemen and ensuring transparency.

“The pricing of the materials is left to the sellers. Since there is no minimum or maximum cap, buyers and sellers can bargain between themselves while trading. They can even choose to sell the materials for free”, he said. Currently, purchases have to made in cash on delivery. The developers are looking at adding an option to enable payment using debit and credit cards and digital wallets in the future.

Madras Waste Exchange, Chennai Garbage, Smart City Mission Upon clicking the geo-tagged location, buyers can view the items that are on sale and their price.

The portal facilitates the trade of all solid municipal waste that can be recycled, such as plastic, clothes, glass and so on. According to Azhagu, the city generates 5000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. “The garbage collected is sent to the landfills in Kodungaiyur and Perungudi, both of which are nearing full capacity. Our aim is to create zero per cent landfills,” said Azhagu.

While the Madras Waste Exchange helps connect private traders, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has set up Resource Recovery Centres (RRC), where the waste collected from households are segregated before being sent to the city’s landfills.

”We have around 210 RRCs in Chennai and the government can list these RRCs on the portal so that people can know what materials are available there. The GCC can also fix their prices for the same,” said Azhagu.

Since usage and registration of the government-operated portal are free, Azhagu hoped the exchange would encourage entrepreneurship, given that many business ventures were taking up the issue of waste management and providing solutions to tackle the issue in a sustainable manner.

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