The sleepy village of Sasewadi in Bhor Block of Pune district in Maharashtra has set a healthy precedent towards eliminating plastic waste and achieving visual cleanliness through an innovative and low-cost, cluster level system for plastic waste management (PWM).
Sasewadi Gram Panchayat established benchmarks for plastic waste management under Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) Phase II.
Official sources said the project is certainly timely, given the phenomenal increase in plastic waste and the challenges it poses, even in the rural areas of the country.
For the pilot project, four gram panchayats namely Sasewadi, Shindewadi, Velu and Kasurdi were selected, all of which have many small-scale industries operating in their jurisdiction as well as many hotels and restaurants. This invariably resulted in a large floating population. Further, dumping and burning of plastic waste in the open was common in almost all the GPs, creating a nuisance.
Block Development Officer (BDO) of Bhor, V. G. Tanpure planned a cluster level plastic waste management system for villages situated near Pune on the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway that generated a large volume of plastic waste.
Meetings were held in all the GPs to explain to the community about the need and importance of PWM and its relevance for attaining ODF Plus status. ODF plus village is defined as “a village which sustains its Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, ensures solid and liquid waste management and is visually clean.” This includes ensuring that all households in a village, as well as the Primary School, Panchayat Ghar and Anganwadi Centre, have access to a toilet.
It was decided to tie-up with a private plastic recycling company which collects and processes plastic, converting it into a type of crude oil, used for burners in industries. The company that was eventually selected had an operational unit situated within a one-kilometre radius of the villages which would facilitate easy transportation of the waste to the unit while keeping the costs to a minimum.
PWM system in Sasewadi village: Sasewadi village was the first to have a system in place for collection, segregation and transportation of waste, while making maximum utilisation of available resources. To begin with, they converted their proposed vermi-composting unit into a resource recovery centre, in which they provided a small space for storage of the plastic waste that was collected. Thereafter, they hired a sanitation worker to collect and segregate waste and another worker for transportation of plastic waste to the company at a nominal charge.
Initially, the people would not segregate waste properly. However, after consistent interpersonal communication, almost all of households took their role seriously and were linked to the system.
The company purchases plastic waste at Rs. 8/kg and the GP uses the income for operation and maintenance of the system. The plastic unit is also equipped with a dust remover to clean the plastic and a shredder to dice the plastic into equal-sized pieces.
The plastic processing unit provides two vital benefits: it accepts all kinds of plastic waste for processing, and the bi-products (carbon chunks, gas emissions, and oil + gas) that it generates are not harmful to the environment. In fact, the gas generated along with the oil are used to power the equipment at the plant. Further, the emissions are well below the prescribed limit of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.
After the successful implementation of the project in Sasewadi, plans are in the pipeline to organise a similar process to link the other three villages to this system. The remaining villages in the Block will soon adopt a step-by-step approach for disposal of plastic waste, replicating this unique, eco-friendly and low-cost model.