In a first such initiative in the country, a company under the Kerala government has fixed base prices for variants of recyclable, non-biodegradable waste.
The move by the Clean Kerala Company Limited (CKCL), formed under the local self-government department, is seen as an attempt to provide additional income support to volunteers of the Haritha Karma Sena (HKS), a “green army” that collects both biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste from households and offices across the state.
The CKCL has announced both baled and unbaled rates for 20 variants of recyclable, non-biodegradable waste, including newspapers, plastic liquor bottles, milk packets, glass bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard. The base prices for baled versions are Rs 12/kg for milk packets, Rs 15/kg for pet plastic bottles, Rs 12/kg for plastic liquor bottles, Rs 40/kg for aluminum cans, Rs 8/kg for newspapers, Rs 20/kg for steel and Rs 4/kg for cardboard.
Kerala produces 1808 tonnes of non-biodegradable waste a day, of which plastic accounts for over 400 tonnes.
A government circular dated July 29 last year had asked HKS volunteers under different rural and urban local bodies to make use of the services of CKCL in the collection, storage, segregation and sale of non-biodegradable waste in order to create more value-added products. Green volunteers were directed to collect waste from households and offices and bring them to material collection facilities (MCFs) at the local body level where they can be segregated further in terms of recyclability.
“The biggest issue while collecting non-biodegradable waste from homes is that they are all mixed together. So we’d find different variants of plastic like PP, HDP, hard plastic etc together. Each item has a different recyclable value. So, in order to get a good price, the waste has to be further segregated at MCFs, which involves labour. That’s how the idea of a transparent base price system (to compensate for the segregation labour of HKS volunteers) came about,” said a district coordinator of Haritha Kerala Mission.
“Right now, the user fee that HKS volunteers charge from households and offices is their only income source. With the base price coming into effect, they will get an additional source of income,” he said.
Recyclable plastic waste, he said, had many uses, ranging from water hoses, chairs, curtain hooks to flower pots.
The work of segregating the non-biodegradable waste according to different variants and selling them to CKCL has already started across many local bodies. On Republic Day, a statewide campaign is being planned, possibly chaired by the chief minister, where cheques will be handed out to HKS units to drive home the message that waste does have a price.