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  Social Responsibility

Waste Management
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 7:14 p.m.
Godrej Consumer partners with Dharthi Sustainables on waste management in Hyderabad

By Business India Editorial

ndia’s cities annually generate close to 6.3 crore tonnes of solid waste. Of this, only 1.2 crore tonnes is processed and the rest is simply not collected or sent to landfill. To contribute to this cause, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. (GCPL) decided to focus on waste management, as a strategic partner with local government, civil society, social enterprises, and citizens’ groups. To achieve this goal, it partnered with Hyderabad-based Dharthi Sustainables, providing the firm technical and investment support for their waste processing unit, and ensuring jobs and dignity to sanitation workers.

Dharthi runs a decentralised collaborative solid waste processing model in Hyderabad, reaching out to 50,000 households. It processes 18,000 MT of waste per annum, reuses 180 crore tonnes of plastic every year, and employs over 150 people in the process. It is active in waste management, afforestation, and farming of barren lands, besides offering consulting activities like rural electrification and better livelihood initiatives for farmers and weaver communities. To run an effective waste management setup, multi-stakeholder partnerships were required with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), civil society organisations or social enterprises, and resident welfare organisations.

The local government provided land for segregation activities and basic recycling. Technology investment was provided by GCPL, and the entrepreneur invested in capital expenditure. This tripartite partnership ensures that the entrepreneur has a higher chance of success. Multiple revenue streams – from composting wet waste, selling recycled products and converting plastic to pellets for recycling – ensure long-term financial sustainability. Segregation and recycling rely heavily on informal workers, who collect, sort, and recycle the waste. Godrej’s projects address waste picker livelihoods by integrating them into the formal system, with the provision of safe working conditions, social safety nets, and child labour restrictions.

Green waste To GHMC, the team proposed local management of dry waste coupled with sensitisation of households on source segregation. Both parties then worked with the urban development and environment teams of Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad to survey sites feasible for implementation. As part of this process, Dharthi also worked alongside with United Federation of Resident Welfare Associations (UFERWAS), the representative body of Resident Welfare Associations. Together, the team figured a model in terms of segregation of dry and wet waste, location, collection and frequency, the area required, design, and infrastructure.

GCPL provided support for technologies for processing and to set up an integrated processing unit where green waste, recyclable and non-recyclable plastics are processed to ensure no waste is sent to landfill due to the complexity in segregation. After land allocation and adhering to Pollution Control Board guidelines, Dharthi set up the processing plant on the outskirts of Hyderabad where waste was procured from 10 Swach Centers with the help of the GHMC. The entire set up has the capacity to deal with 18,000 MT of dry and green waste collection per annum while ensuring near-zero environmental damage. The setup’s capacity includes hydraulic-press compaction of green waste to bio-coal, double stage extrusion for recycling plastics, thermal non-catalytic de-polymerisation, and an innovative self-sustainable non-recyclable plastic waste processing technology. It recovers most of the material in-house and that minimizes the cost of transportation and land for landfills.

The plant converts segregated plastic (recyclable and non-recyclable) into plastic granules and fuels that are sold to third parties. Close to 1,800 MT of plastic waste is reused in this manner. Experiments are being conducted to check if the plastic pellets could be used for the packaging of Godrej projects. The waste management workers and rag pickers have witnessed a financial boost earning an additional income of Rs15,000 – Rs40,000. The programme’s model incentivizes the workers and provides them with well-designed infrastructure and access to segregate roadside waste, recycling bins and industrial waste. All workers are provided with equipment to ensure health and safety standards such as gloves, masks, and boots.

With an annual budget of Rs9 crore, the recycling unit has a return on investment of 15-18 per cent. With initial success, the team plans to triple its capacities in the next few months and reach out to many more residents along the way.

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