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Nearly 650 waste pickers from Pune are benefiting from a new model of waste collection being implemented on a pilot basis across 10 wards of the city.

Earlier destined for landfills, multilayered plastic (MLP) waste, most commonly used in food packaging, is not being segregated and sold in the same way as high value plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The initiative, the first of its kind in the country, is being spearheaded by ITC Limited, which is partnering with SWaCH, a cooperative society of nearly 3,500 waste pickers in Pune that provides door-to-door collection of waste from 8.2 lakh residential and commercial establishments in the city. “The idea is that collection of MLP waste should be like that of newspapers. There should be a value to collect and segregate it,” said Chitranjan Dar, group head of environment, health and safety, projects and R&D at ITC Limited.

Harshad Barde, director at SWaCH, said MLP waste used to be sent along with wet waste to the landfill as none of the scrap dealers would buy it from them. Mr. Barde said that at present, they collect roughly 100 tonnes of MLP waste per month. “Our aim is to reach 400 tonnes in the next six months and have all 3,500 waste pickers on board,” he said.

Suman More, who has been a waste picker for nearly 30 years, said nobody would take biscuit wrappers and chips packs from them, and all of that would go to the dumpyard along with wet waste. “For waste that had no value, today I get paid a little extra and for nearly the same amount of work,” he said.

ITC pays the waste pickers ₹2.5 per kg for MLP waste and sends it to a collection point in Hadapsar, where it is compressed to form 90-kg bales to send to the recycling unit. Mr. Dar said the entire cost of collecting, segregating and transporting MLP waste comes to around ₹15 per kg.

For the recycling, the company has partnered with Shakti Plastics, which pays the company around ₹8 per kg for the MLP waste. Rahul Poddar, director, Shakti Plastic Industries, said the model addressed a key challenge faced by most recyclers: procuring segregated waste. “Segregation at source is key to make recycling viable and recycling is the only sustainable way to reuse plastic,” he said. There was enough demand for quality recycled products, he said.

Mr. Poddar said granules made out MLP waste were priced at ₹30 to ₹35 per kg, much lower than those made out of other high value plastics, which can fetch up to ₹60 per kg. MLP has a key disadvantage as compared to other plastics as it is made out of two or three different polymers, which is essential to make packaging airtight and waterproof. The recycled granules are hence not of a single polymer, reducing their value. Moreover, due to its light weight, one needs large volumes to make recycling viable. Mr. Poddar, who is a third-generation plastic recycler, said since food packaging cannot be reused, it is normally mixed with other waste, leading to huge costs in cleaning and segregating it. At present, they have a capacity of 100 tonnes a day, out of which 60 tonnes is being utilised, he said.

Mr. Dar said they were providing the company inputs in terms of better technology. “There will be a technology intervention … in the next three to four months, which will help produce granules of better quality and at a larger scale,” he said. Their role was that of an enabler, filling the gaps and putting the system together, he said. “Our attempt will be to make the supply chain taut. We want to lubricate the system and make it work till it is close to being profitable. The idea is to create a model that will have economic returns close to the cost of recycling,” Mr. Dar said. If successful, Pune could be a model for most Asian cities, he said.

Read more this:  https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/itc-pune-cooperative-team-up-to-recycle-chips-biscuit-packets-help-waste-pickers/article29579071.ece

October 19 @ 18:15
18:15 — 19:15 (1h)