SAAHAS, GIZ, Tetra Pak India and Coca-Cola India Share Learnings from Ongoing Source Segregation Campaign, Alag Karo

New Delhi: SAAHAS, a non-profit organization, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (Implementing agency on behalf of German Govt.), Tetra Pak India, and Coca-Cola India have shared the learnings of Alag Karo, a source segregation program in Gurugram, at a multi-stakeholder event at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The event brought together experts and practitioners from solid waste management to discuss implementation challenges, approach and learnings of source segregation programs in various cities in India including Gurugram, Bengaluru and Delhi. Insights from these programs can be used to scale up these projects or launch similar projects across other states in the country. Many of these insights have been included in a report that highlights the impact of source segregation of waste in residential apartment complexes under Alag Karo program (covering close to 20,000 houses). This report also documents a 10-step process that an apartment community should follow to implement source segregation and sustain it. This is further elaborated through case studies encapsulating details of challenges faced and solutions developed during the program implementation.

The event was attended by esteemed dignitaries including Shri Ritesh Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Vinod Kumar Jindal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Shri Yashpal Yadav, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Gurugram (MCG). Swachh Bharat Ambassador, Mr. Sourav Ganguly, was the special guest at the event.

Divya Tewari, CEO, SAAHAS, said, “This was a unique program for SAAHAS as we were launching Source Segregation drive at a City level. Up until then we had done it at a smaller scale in a single colony or a village. The program had stiff targets but the team went about it very systematically, a seemingly simple idea of Source Segregation when executed at an apartment level has many operational complexities associated. We got very enthusiastic response from the citizen of Gurugram, many volunteers pitched in at their respective apartments and localities. Icing on the cake was when 14 of these communities also started on-site composting ensuring biodegradable waste got recycled inside the premises. Each apartment/school brought in new learnings and has helped us evolve a detailed step-by-step approach for implementing and sustaining Source Segregation. We appreciate the support provided from our program partners, Coke, Tetra Pak and GIZ and also MCG; the success achieved is because of the strong team work.”

The key aspects that have emerged during Alag Karo implementation in the Apartments are as follows:

1. Bringing about overall Attitudinal Change

The participation of urban community in waste management is critically dependent on its attitude towards this issue. ‘Alag Karo’ program through its various public campaigns was able to bring about this change and raise public participation. It has also been able to instill a sense of ownership among the citizens about their city. They were also sensitised to the plight of the waste workers who had to scavenge through their mixed waste. The residents are taking responsibility of their own waste by way of source segregation.

2. Role of Door-to-Door collection

During the program, it was experienced that door-to-door collection of waste was critical in hitting 90% plus levels of source segregation as the collector was able to pinpoint the defaulters and give feedback to the specific residents.

3. Effective Information Education and Communication (IEC) for the success of the project

Interesting and engaging IEC including games and competitive activities ensured strong positive engagement with the program. This demonstrates the importance of education and publicity in the source segregation of waste.

4. Strong Coordination between the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) & the Volunteers in the program

It is important that RWA and the volunteers work in tandem to ensure successful implementation of the program. Additionally, the leadership of RWA is critical for program sustenance.

5. In- situ composting helps in building the sustainability of the program

It has been observed that on-site composting of wet waste brings out a sense of ownership and pride among the residents, as they witness ‘waste to resource’ as part of the process. They also feel proud of the fact that they can generate employment at the base of the pyramid which has led to an improvement in source segregation of waste in these apartments.

The Alag Karo program was officially launched on 6th September 2017. By the end of Dec 2018, 24,000 households had been sensitized across 50 RWAs on source segregation and more than 1 lac people had been sensitized through various public campaigns.