First Recyclathon awards recognises wastewise heroes

Green heroes - from waste pickers who keep Bengaluru clean to RWAs who have reduced garbage quantity with zero waste projects, get recognition at the first ever Recyclathon awards.

While many apartments in the city are taking baby steps with waste recycling initiatives, Tungabhadra block of National Games Village apartments, Koramangala, has generated about Rs 1 lakh in the last seven months with its waste recycling project.

Recyclathon – Best Waste Wise Apartments Championship – National Games Village. Pic: Vani Murthy

The 220 apartment block won the championship in the ‘Best Waste Wise Apartment (100-250 unit category)’ award in the Recyclathon awards on November 13th. Recyclathon was organised as part of the Bangalore Recycling Habba 2011, a series of events across the city, during November 1st to 13th. The awards, conceptualised by Radio Active, a community radio station,  acknowledged good practices in waste management. Marwan Abubaker of Radio Active says, “Recyclathon was meant to raise awareness and inspire public and authorities."

NGV Tungabadra block segregates 4500 kgs of waste per month, of which 90% is recycled at the apartment itself. Wet waste is converted into compost. Dry waste is segregated at the secondary level – for example, plastic bottles are segregated as per their quality and sold. Orange peels and egg shells are dried, powdered, packaged and sold; coconut shells are sold to be used as fuel. "Residents pay a small fee of Rs 60 per month for running the unit. Among residents, a group of women volunteers manage the operations,” says resident Soumya Thontesh.

The Habba was organised by Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT), and was supported by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), BBMP and the Karnataka High Court Legal Services Committee. Formed in 2009, SWMRT is a group of organisations and individuals that has been promoting waste segregation and recycling initiatives. It has so far managed to introduce recycling initiatives in 15,000 organisations across the city.

In addition to Recyclathon, other events part of the Habba included exhibitions of products from waste materials and flea markets. There was also Trash Trail, a guided tour on the journey of garbage from homes to landfills and a children’s workshop on bugs.

NGV was one of the 27 winners in the Recyclathon. The awards for best waste management practices was given in different categories – school, RWA, corporates, apartment with less than 100 units, apartment with 100-250 units, and apartment with more than 250 units.

Innisfree School, Champions in Best Waste Wise School category Every classroom has bins for paper and plastic. Paper is used in the school’s own recycling unit which was set up six years back in the campus. It generates about 15 kgs of recycled paper per week, which is used in school projects. Plastic is collected by the NGO Saahas and sent to recycling units. Wet waste is collected in bins in corridors, which is used in the anaerobic composting unit in the campus; compost is then used in the school’s gardens. School faculty Rajeshwari Reddy says that the only cost involved in the entire system is transportation cost given to Saahas.

There were awards in other categories too. Overall 400 nominations were received for various awards, and the winners were selected by a jury of three members – former BATF member Kalpana Kar, ABIDe member Dr Ashwin Mahesh and KSPCB Senior Environmental Officer Venkatesh Shekhar.

The award for Recycling Champion for 2011 was given to waste picker Lakshmi, 47, a resident of Desiyar Nagar. ‘Badalavaneya Harikara’ award was given to waste pickers who turned entrepreneurs in waste management. ‘Kalitu Shraddeinda Kalisidavaru’ award was given to waste pickers who managed to enrol their children in higher education courses.

The Material Champion award was for those who collected the highest amount of waste within November 1-10. Awards were also given for best organic waste recycling programme and lead poisoning prevention programme. BBMP was one of the special awardees for engagement with waste pickers.

Awards list
The Best Waste Wise School: 
Innisfree House School, JP Nagar – Championship;  Sri Kumaran Children’s Home – CBSE – Winner;

The Waste Wise Community Awards

  • The Best Waste Wise RWA: Kalyan Nagar RWA – Championship; Bhuvaneshwarinagar RWA – Winner;  Sada Zero– Runner Up
  • The Best Waste Wise Apartment (Less than 100 units): Brigade Regency – Championship;  Krishna Greens- Winner;  Renaissance Regalia & Trinetra Retreat – Runners Up
  • The Best Waste Wise Apartments (100 to 250 Units): National Games Village – Championship;  Renaissance Park 1 – Winner; Adarsh Residency – Runner Up
  • The Best Waste Wise Apartments- 250 above: Mantri Tranquil –  Championship; Godrej Woodsman Estate- Winner; Springfields and Platinum City –  Special Award
  • The Waste Wise Business Awards: Texas Instruments Pvt. Ltd – Championship; Mphasis Pvt Ltd, Mysore Road Campus – Winner
  • The Best Organic Waste Recycling Program: SAP LAB India Pvt Ltd – Championship

The Waste Wise Special Awards

  • Engagement with Waste Pickers: BBMP – Special Recognition,  Gilgal Trust- Special Recognition
  • The Material Champion  ( Special Awards): Raja & Prakash ( Paper) – 656kgs
  • Lead Poisoning Prevention: Maharani College, Bangalore; Mr. Umashankar
  • Badalavaneya Harikara: Palani, Shanti
  • Kalitu Shraddeinda kalisidavaru: Ganga, Satya
  • The Recycling Champion for 2011: Lakshmi

As a young boy, Palani was a wastepicker. For the past 10 years, he is the waste segregation contractor for Wipro, employing five others. Shanti, also a wastepicker, started her own business, now employing four others to manage waste from Manipal Hotel on a contract basis.

Ganga, a former wastepicker, now collects cotton boxes from garment shops for a livelihood. Her daughter Anita is doing her undergraduation and son Aarivagalan is in PUC. Ganga is determinated to give her children a better future. Satya, another winner, has moved from waste collection from the streets to collecting directly from offices. Her daughter is studying PUC.

The Recycling Champion for 2011
Lakshmi, Waste picker, collects 50 kg of waste everyday. She says: “We work rain or shine, holidays or working days. Just imagine a city without us.” Pic: Vani Murthy

The Recycling Champion, Lakshmi is a waste picker. The 47-year old single parent of seven from Desiyar Nagar picks and sorts recyclable waste on her 10 km walk to Kammanahali every single day. She collects about 50kg of waste a day.

About her work, Lakshmi proudly says, "We, the 20,000-strong Green Champions, pick 20% of the waste in Bangalore. We recycle every bit of waste. Yes, we do this for our living, but in turn, we keep the city clean, reduce landfills, and reduce garbage transportation. Unlike the city corporation’s employees, we don’t get a salary, we don’t get a pension, and we don’t get medical assistance. We protect the environment. We work rain or shine, holidays or working days. Just imagine a city without us."

Recycle Habba at Olive beach (Re Flea Market) saw a host of artist designers, self help groups and NGO’s which exhibited a range of exciting products, all created by recycling plastic, tetra packs, glass, cloth, waste paper and more.


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  1. Deepa Mohan says:

    Excellent report, Thank you, Navya!

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