India is set to ban single-use plastics.
From July 1, most single-use plastics – including food packaging, straws and disposable bags – will be banned in the country which generates about 3.4 million tonnes of plastic waste yearly.
But a plastic ban alone is not enough to reduce plastic waste pollution in India, experts told CNBC in response to the announcement of the ban last year.
Poor or lack of waste management in cities has led to plastic waste entering and accumulating on land and in water, causing harm to the environment and wildlife.
The urgent need to manage plastic waste better
Recognising plastic waste management as “one of the most pressing urban issues”, start-up Recity Network wants to improve waste management in India, city by city.
A spokesperson for Recity Network shared:
“Over 4,000 city administrators in India are unable to monitor how waste is managed and disposed of in their cities, leading to increased littering by citizens and thereby increasing public health challenges.”
Recity Network also shared that companies in India have difficulties in accounting for the plastic that they introduce into the market even though they are obliged to “collect, transport and scientifically dispose of the plastic waste” after the Indian government introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility under the Plastic Waste Management Rules in 2016.
Improving waste management with the use of tech
Since 2017, Recity Network has been working with both the city governments and corporations using its Waste Intelligence platform to monitor and manage plastic waste better.
The company aims to build a circular economy of waste meaning that plastic waste will be tracked and sent back to the producers for recycling.
Through an initiative called Project Hildaari, Recity Network also raised awareness about proper waste disposal and provided training to waste workers.
Once seen as an informal job, waste workers are professionalised by being taught how to use the city’s monitoring app, read digital records of waste, and store data via QR code scanning during waste collection.
With the use of Recity Network’s Waste Intelligence platform, the quantity and movement of waste are recorded, allowing high quality plastic materials to be diverted back to the producers for recycling.
Project Hilldaari, which is supported by Nestlé India, has been carried out in seven Indian cities such as Mussoorie, Nainital, Dalhousie, Ponda, Mahabaleshwar and Munnar.
How successful is this initiative? Recity Network said that in just three years, over 7,040 metric tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfills in Mussoorie, a hill city in the state of Uttarakhand.
Scaling up with the help from DBS Bank
In total, Recity Network has diverted 53,000 metric tonnes of waste from landfills in India, and provided dignified employment and training to around 2,700 waste workers over the last five years, it shared with Mothership.
Since becoming an awardee of the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme, the company has received more support in optimising its Waste Intelligence platform.
The grant from DBS Foundation enables Recity Network to build on its innovation and technology capabilities, and also scale up its plastic waste management operations so that it can expand to more cities.
Recity Network said that the grant from DBS Foundation lays “a critical framework” for it to achieve its purpose of “keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment, with inclusion, circularity and sustainability at its core.”
This article was made possible with the support of DBS Bank.
The 2022 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme is open for applications. Innovative social enterprises with solutions tackling the areas of social/environmental impact or “Zero Food Waste” are welcome to apply from now till May 31, 2022, 2359h.
Discover more about the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant here.
Top image via Recity Network and Unsplash.