On 15 and 16 June 2019, Dynamic Outreach organized a global Recycling conference, awards and exhibition event at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The two-day conference saw industry experts talk on various issues such as recycling, climate change, sustainability, waste management and environment. During the conference, experts from government institutions, industry and non-profit organizations discussed both the challenges and some of the possible solutions regarding waste management and recycling. The use of digital platforms and new technologies for processing materials and waste were seen as a major part of the solutions.
During his presentation, Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai, director, Center for Environment Education expressed concern over the increased consumption of plastics and the increased generation of waste in the environment. He said, “We are building mountains of that waste, where the sad part is, we have become opaque to it. The plastic consumption in India might be 1/10th of the US, considering the large part of India being rural and people relatively poor. But our pollution levels are on the higher side because the habit of proper disposal is not there.”
Addressing the issue of waste disposal, he said that only passing laws or regulations cannot solve this problem. In order to protect our environment, we need to change the mindset, habit and attitude towards waste. Sarabhai added, “We have lived in an organic society for more than 1000 years, where we were using everything organic and pollution was relatively smaller. But now we see new materials are coming in and population is exploding worldwide. Moreover, the materials which we are using are not bio-degradable. It is not the same thing to throw mango peel outside than to throw a mango drink wrapper.”
R Vasudevan, who has developed an innovative method to reuse plastic waste to construct better, more durable and very cost-effective roads said, “Plastic is an easily available and beautiful gift of technology for the poor man. A few state governments have banned plastic bags but this is not the way. Instead, we need to have a better process in place to collect and segregate the waste. We have used plastic waste to build roads and these roads are functioning well and their life is not less than 10 years.”
Other speakers also shared their views and stated that India’s waste management sector is an unorganized one and there are problems related to collection, segregation, awareness and recycling. Nevertheless, several companies attending the conference represented the new recycling industry that is poised for growth. Companies like Recykal have come up with a digital solution for effective waste management. The conference also included an award ceremony where awards were given to stakeholders for doing outstanding work in their respective domains.
The key takeaways of the conference included discussions on how recycling helps save valuable landfill space and protect the health of the environment and the surrounding community. Therefore, it is time to rethink and redefine conventional approaches and find practical solutions for the environment. With appropriate processes and mechanisms in place, we can create a model which India could be proud of!