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Friday, July 20, 2018

Pune: Environment-conscious citizens at forefront of battle against plastic waste

“The major chemical that is used to make plastic is highly toxic, it poses a serious threat to the eco-system and all living species on earth,” pointed out Lokesh Bapat, founder of Tellus.

Written by Garima Mishra | Pune | Published: May 13, 2017 12:44:05 pm
plastic waste, waste management, Pune waste management, Pune waste treatment, Pune plastic waste management, solid waste disposal, indian express news Plastic waste collection at Bhimashankar with forest officials. 

The Pune Municipal Corporation is yet to find a decisive solution to the problem of increasing plastic waste, but a few environment-conscious Puneites are doing their bit to save the environment.


In 2009, Medha Tadpatrikar and her friend Shirish Phadtare were visiting a wildlife sanctuary when they witnessed the death of a deer after eating plastic. Disturbed by the incident, the duo decided to do something about the issue. In 2010, they installed a plastic recycling plant that used thermo catalytic de-polymerisation technology to convert waste plastic to fuel.

In 2014, they launched a second plant, and then another in 2016. “In 2014, we started creating awareness about segregation at source and promoting ‘our plastic our responsibility’. Through our NGO Keshav Sita Trust, we started collecting plastic waste from households,” said Tadpatrikar.

As per its timetable, the group collects plastic waste from all areas of Pune city and its surrounding areas free-of-cost. The trust also collects waste from Raigad, Baneshwar, Baramati and Bhimashankar, and more recently, from Thane and Dombivali. “When we started, I used to collect the plastic waste in my car. Now, we have two vans but it looks like we need more… we have also been receiving parcels of plastic waste from Mumbai and Vizag,” said Tadpatrikar .


From 150 students and only one school in 2011, to the involvement of 4.8 lakh local residents via 1.2 lakh school students from 120 schools, Sagarmitra Abhiyaan by The Academic Advisors, a social enterprise, has taken significant strides in teaching families how to adopt plastic waste segregation at source. “This is 800 per cent growth in six years. It is not easy to change adults.

However, children can be instrumental in bringing about change in the society. These students brought a total of 50 tonnes of plastic waste from home to school, and handed it over for recycling, there was zero cost in collection and transport,” said Vinod Bodhankar, president, Jalbiradari, and joint director, Sagarmitra Abhiyaan.

The directorate of education of Pune division, which has three districts and 15,111 schools with 5 million students, has invited TAA to design a plan on how to reach the students with the Sagarmitra Abhiyaan. The PMC has also partnered with TAA to bring Sagarmitra Abhiyaan to government schools.


Every Sunday, a group of 50 volunteers associated with city-based organisation Tellus gather at a pre-decided spot in the city and collect plastic waste dumped in the area. Depending on the spot, the volunteers end up collecting anywhere between 10 to 50 sacks of plastic, which are later given for recycling to either the PMC or a private recycling plant. “…The major chemical that is used to make plastic is highly toxic, it poses a serious threat to the eco-system and all living species on earth,” pointed out Lokesh Bapat, founder of Tellus.

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