Bangalore gets together for ‘clean-up’ fest

A unique week-long expo aims to bring together stakeholders from all platforms to initiate an effective dialogue on how to optimally address Bangalore's waste problem.

It is a ‘Habba’ like no other. ‘Wake Up Clean Up’ – to be held at Freedom Park between the 3rd and 10th of February – is the city’s biggest event ever dedicated to the mounting problem of waste. It aims to create awareness, dialogue and action around the issues, technologies and solutions that can help optimally handle the city’s waste.

For the first time, Bangalore’s citizens (waste generators), vendors (offering waste management solutions), and those commanding the city’s infrastructure will come together, with the sole intention of showcasing tailor-made solutions for every segment of society and initiating dialogues to kick-start a decentralised waste management process.

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School children at the Wake up Clean up expo at Freedom Park. Pic: Vani Murthy

As Kalpana Kar, Convener – Bangalore City Connect says, " Everyone in our city today has either read about the garbage problem, discussed it, witnessed it or pointed fingers at the BBMP. However, very few have seen the hidden opportunity in it". She adds that we (the city) are now at the cusp of change when a critical mass needs to adopt a new way of managing waste so that it becomes the norm.

It is to reach that tipping point that Wake Up Clean Up has been organised. An interesting mix of partners that include the Bruhat Bengaluru Mananagara Palike (BBMP), City Connect, FKCCI (Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry), SWMRT(Solid Waste Management Round Table) and others who represent a variety of stakeholders and their interests – another first, especially in the area of waste management – have come together to make the event possible.

Ashwin Mahesh, founder of Mapunity, who is also actively involved with this effort puts it succinctly when he says, ‘We want Mandur to stop… and we do not want any more Mandurs…which means we want to simultaneously offer smart decentralised solutions for managing waste", and that is precisely what Wake Up Clean Up intends to facilitate.

According to Mahesh, the lack of awareness regarding the range of available market solutions and their related costs is one of the primary reasons why citizens fail to identify the business opportunity in managing waste in a decentralised manner. This, therefore, is going to be one of the key focus areas of the Expo.

What to expect

V Ravichandar, Chairman, Feedback Consulting and Chief Evangeliser, City Connect, explains the main constituents of a good road-map for resolving the waste problem that we face today:

  1. Segregation at Source
  2. Local resolution of waste (in the neighbourhood)
  3. Reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfills by at least 85-90% over the next couple of years, and
  4. Extended Producer Responsibility (which basically holds the manufacturer responsible for take-back, recycle and final disposal of the product in order that the loop is closed)

 He says that the expo will address this through dedicated solution tracks for different types of bulk waste generators ( those who account for 50% or more of the total waste generated in the city per day).

As the following schedule ( outlines, each of the days focusses on one of these segments; this is to ensure that the problems and solutions are discussed, clarified and better understood through customised workshops, expert talks, exhibitions, experience-sharing sessions and focused training programs.

Feb 4 Traders and small businesses
Feb 5 Hospitality – Hotels, Mantapas, Restaurants, eateries
Feb 6 Healthcare – Hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres
Feb 7 Companies, Campuses & Institutions
Feb 8 Apartments, RWA, Gated Communities

All the organisers of Wake Up Clean Up are unequivocal in their belief that it is critical to offer support to these bulk generators in identifying and understanding the business opportunities to manage their waste at source, so that they can initiate the process immediately.

For instance, as Mahesh says, if there are RWAs or hotels facing stumbling blocks, the Expo will help them network with other successful RWAs in their neighbourhood (the mapping of success stories, landfills and other such useful information has already been initiated by Mapunity).

The 60 odd large-scale solution providers, community recyclers and technology service providers who will showcase and demonstrate their waste management and recycling solutions tailor-made for the waste generator will ensure that they go back with the full understanding that not implementing the waste management process is in fact a loss for them!

Leaders and representatives of the industry are also an integral part of Wake Up Clean Up. Every morning through the coming week, at the Power Nashta (a breakfast meeting), these opinion makers and policy influencers will be shown various aspects of the waste management process with the objective of getting them to adopt it on their office building/campus; not just as a responsible, do-good action but as a wise business opportunity as well.

Kar adds that about 5000 city schools (both private and Government) have signed up and will participate in the expo. Apart from taking part in demos, awareness workshops and DIY sessions, school children will also participate in a citywide competition on waste and take pledges to do their bit for a cleaner city.

She believes that no real solution can be planned without taking into account the next generation. So, if we take charge and work to manage our waste more responsibly, the next generation is sure to remember us as those who took stock and changed things for them; rather than those who did not care and left things in a total mess.

Sandya Narayan, a member of SWMRT, says the Round Table will be managing the ‘How to Segregate‘ session that will demonstrate how to effectively sort and separate waste at source. ‘Why Clean Up‘ will drive home the importance of this process and an interesting dimension to watch would be the WOW Space where garbage generated on Day 1 can be seen converted to a resource by Day 7.

The Dry Waste Collection Centre at Freedom Park and sharing of experiences from Successful Community Champions will also be facilitated by the Round Table.

Narayan reminds us that the fun lies in celebrating waste that is more – waste as art, waste as culture, waste as wealth and waste that each one of us can do something about. This is the key focus of the Grand Finale – an open-to-public weekend Waste Habba, where one can observe installations, buy products, watch films as well as participate in workshops, fun games and activities – all centred around waste.

Take-home message

As Kar emphasises, the take-home message for each visitor (be it employee, apartment-dweller, CEO, policy-maker, hotelier, medical practitioner or anyone else) would be how s/he wants to look at waste differently and engage with the system to initiate immediate action.

The Expo offers ample opportunity for this by facilitating a detailed understanding of the ‘what and how’ of managing waste; to arm every visitor with necessary information and a resource network.

The organisers are clear that this must not be viewed as a singular, one-off event. It is the trigger or kickstart of a movement that then has to percolate to every home, office, shop, public space; every nook and cranny of the city so that there is no looking back. One only looks forward to the new way of managing waste in a decentralised way.

They say the
message is aptly captured in the byline of Wake Up Clean Up – Banni, Nodi, Maadi (come, see, do). Clearly the time for Mathaadi is up…

So, WAKE UP CLEAN UP, fellow Bangaloreans…see you at Freedom Park.

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