Cummins employees worked to educate residents about appropriate waste disposal, while bringing dignity to waste collectors.
The Zero Garbage Ward is a project, close to the organization's mission of 'Demanding that everything we do leads to a Cleaner, Safer and Healthier Environment'. Rapid urbanization, expanding population and use-and-throw habits of people have created a garbage explosion, which the current system is incapable of handling efficiently. Uruli Devachi, Pune city's main landfill site was presenting health concerns for its residents. Regular agitations by residents and refusal to permit entry of trucks into the landfill meant waste was not being picked up from Pune city.
Approach and effort
Katraj Ward No. 144 was chosen as the test case. Pune's largest ward in terms of geographic size and number of households, it was the ideal representation of the waste problems plaguing the city.
In collaboration with NGO Janwani, Cummins created a model for disposal of waste at the source.
The overarching goals of the Zero Garbage Ward initiative include:
- Alleviating environmental problems, through segregating and recycling the dry and wet waste
- Increasing cleanliness
- Improving the quality of life for both residents and waste pickers, through better door-to-door collection, improving safety and bringing dignity
- Reducing costs for the city by minimizing transportation expense and alleviating problems at landfills
In addition to Cummins and Janwani, other partners like SWaCH- a co-operative of rag pickers, Pune Municipal Corporation, Plastic Association, Scrap Dealers Association etc, also participated in this program.
The key to make this project a success was education.
- Waste pickers were trained on the new system and integrated into appropriate door-to-door collection
- Residents were taught how to segregate wet and dry waste
To do this, volunteers from Cummins:
- Marched through the streets of Katraj and met with residents for generating awareness on appropriate waste segregation
- Handed out communication material to explain the difference between wet and dry waste
- Organized public events in Katraj on waste segregation
- Used puppet shows as an innovative method to educate the public
As with any Cummins project, the Zero Garbage Ward can be, and is being, replicated across the city - currently in 25 wards. The outcome of this project has been:
- The creation of a project manual that outlines the processes, a complaint mechanism to help keep the system on track, information for residents to report absent waste pickers, as well as methods for waste pickers to report residents and businesses that fail to segregate trash
- Maximum people participation - employees of Cummins, NGO representatives, rag pickers, politicians, corporators, PMC officials and citizens
- Bringing dignity to waste pickers - reducing manual handling of waste
- Initializing payment process for rag pickers
- Rag pickers have been given uniforms and gloves while collecting household waste for their safety
- Rag pickers have gained financially by selling dry scrap to scrap dealers
The Zero Garbage Ward project represents a paradigm shift from garbage as disposable to garbage as a renewable, even profitable resource.