While the Maharashtra government has proposed a ban on various plastic items from March onwards, suburban residents and NGO Urjaa Foundation have been working with the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) for more than a year to create awareness among citizens about reducing plastic use. They have also collected plastic waste, and have so far sent 24 tonnes of it for recycling to generate polyfuel in an eco-friendly manner.
Office bearers of the Urjaa Foundation said that they initially started by cleaning a local market in Dombivli (east) and urging citizens to stop buying vegetables in plastic bags. They also distributed cloth bags to citizens on January 26, 2016. “After we received a good response from people, we started looking for options to recycle the plastic waste generated,” said a representative from Urjaa Foundation. They got in touch with Rudra Environmental Solution, based in Pune district’s Jejuri, that makes polyfuel from recycled plastic.
“Then, in December 2016, we launched a series of plastic awareness sessions and started collection drives to take people’s plastic waste. The campaign was named ‘my plastic waste is my responsibility’, and was held in schools, colleges and housing societies in Kalyan and Dombivli to inform people of the ill effects of plastic and the need for recycling it,” said Snehal Dixit, a representative of Urjaa Foundation. She added that they emphasise on the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ norm, along with one more — refuse plastic.
Dixit said that the collection drive is now held every 40 days. “The housing societies segregate plastic waste and ask for a garbage van to send the waste to a designated collection centre of the civic body near Pragati college in Dombivli (east). Some of them also bring it on the day of the drive. We then dispatch the load for recycling. Increasingly, more and more societies have been taking the initiative and are connecting with us,” she explained.
Apart from the Urjaa Foundation, Kailash and Sukhada Deshpande from Kalyan have also been collecting plastic waste, e-waste, thermocol, old clothes and other items to give to various NGOs for reuse or for recycling. “While I wanted to do something about plastic and other waste, I came in contact with these drives in Dombivli and started working with them. Initially, I urged people to give us plastic and other waste through social media. Now, many societies are also doing waste segregation,” said Kailash, who is an IT engineer.
Officials from the civic body’s Solid Waste Management Department have also extended support to the drive as the NGO is working free of cost. “We allow the NGO to organise the drive in our premises so that citizens come to know that we support it. They have created a lot of awareness, especially in schools and colleges, and the societies are now coming forward with segregated plastic waste,” said an official, adding that there is no official agreement with the NGO for the work.
“The NGO expressed willingness to work with us and we started working together immediately,” the official added.